“A strong communicator with a distinctive voice,” Ellwood, Nanticoke & Lenape, died after a courageous battle with cancer
Lisa J. Ellwood was one of the most diligent journalists I have ever worked with. She was thorough, thoughtful and steadfast in the most wonderful of ways. She never hesitated to tell you her point of view, and no one could say Lisa J. Ellwood didn’t have a stance or opinion based on the passion she felt for Indigenous people and the communities to which she belonged.
Last year, she told my wife Delores and myself that she was unfortunately diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, an inoperable and rare form of cancer that affects the bile duct in the liver and gallbladder.
We were devastated, but hopeful that perhaps something could be done. But this was not to be, and she passed away.
She was a contributor to so many things in this world. But more than anything, Lisa J. Ellwood was a friend and like our sister. At the young age of 57, she died much too soon.
But in her own words, in her signature line and on her own website publications and email signature lines, Lisa J. Ellwood put the words that I could not agree with more: As Ellwood so often included in her correspondence to colleagues all over the world, she was “a strong communicator with a distinctive voice.”
About Lisa J. Ellwood, her formal memorial
Lisa J. Ellwood was a member of both the interrelated Lenape Indian Tribe of Delaware, Nanticoke Indian Tribe (DE) and Nanticoke-Lenape Indian Tribal Nation (NJ) referred to as “The Original People of the Delaware Bay Region.”
She passed away on Thursday, May 11, 2023, after a battle with cancer in her country of residence, Scotland.
Ellwood was a former resident of the United States and hailed from Philadelphia. She studied journalism at Temple University’s School of Media and Communications, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Journalism and Advertising and a minor in both Marketing and French.
With a passion for design, she also studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and pursued post-graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania with a concentration in Communications and International Marketing.
Her published literary work
Throughout her career in journalism, she contributed to publications all over the world, specializing in data journalism and visualization, Indigenous issues, disability rights, mental illness and autism. Her blog site The Creative Crip was cited several times in The Guardian’s Society Daily section for her commentaries on being a “disabled and housebound” journalist.
Ellwood, having studied six languages in her life and career, was competent in French and as a resident in Scotland and the UK was working to become competent in Welsh.
Most recently she was a freelance correspondent and press pool manager at ICT, formerly known as Indian Country Today. She also formerly served as the contributor and Western Energy News Digest editor for the Energy News Network. Ellwood was also a consulting editor and features writer for Promota Magazine.
Lisa J. Ellwood was active in the journalism community and championed often for Indian Country most notably for the plight of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Her extensive report and article in Indian Country Today, titled: A Comprehensive Investigative Report on Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women The Curiously Different Tales of Violence against Indigenous Women On Both Sides of Turtle Island has been cited by publications all over the world since being published in 2016.
In addition to her extensive work in journalism, Ellwood also wrote fantasy-based fiction for the role-playing gaming community. Two of her popular works include Descendants of the Three Sisters: Native American Clans of the Northeast, an RPG (role-playing game) supplement book to Vampire the Masquerade, which includes Indigenous-based stories and Native American Vampires. The other publication is Snowhaven Savage Worlds, (High Level Games) which includes story guidelines in dark fantasy and snowbound wastelands.
She was also one of the contributing writers to the popular Indigenous-themed comic book collection A Howl: An Indigenous Comic Collection of Wolves, Werewolves, and Rougarou, which was led by editor Elizabeth LaPensée and published by Native Realities Press by publisher Lee Francis.
Lisa J. Ellwood also had her work published in The Center for the Arts in Society, Carnegie-Mellon University with her short story titled, The Keepers of the Land.
Her involvement in literary and marketing organizations
Lisa J. Ellwood was also an active member in several organizations including the Native American Journalists Association, the grassroots nonprofit, Investigative Reporters & Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom.
Ellwood was a former member of the Executive Committee of the National Board of Directors of the Graphic Artist’s Guild. When working with the Graphic Artist’s Guild, she headed the Graphic Design Certification Committee where she created and presented the first-of-its-kind proposal for Graphic Designer certification, which was accepted and approved by the Guild in May of 1998.
In her decades of experience, Ellwood began her career as a marketing specialist that contributed to a number of Blue Chip, Fortune 500 companies.
A Musical Tribute to the life of Lisa J. Ellwood, composed by Bryan Crumpler
A musical tribute to the life of Lisa J. Ellwood, composed by Bryan Crumpler Her name was “The beautiful reflection of the moon in the water.” Music composer Bryan Crumpler incorporated elements of this name as well as her favorite color purple into the composition of this music.
Notes of appreciation from her colleagues
A Howl editor Elizabeth LaPensée
Lisa Ellwood was a talented writer with so much to give, she is leaving behind a body of work that was so important to Indigenous people everywhere. I don’t know if people realize just how much she contributed in so many ways, especially in the gaming community.
She was already giving so much thoughtful work, and in my view was truly beginning to get the recognition she deserved. It is tragic to think how much more she had to give. It was a pleasure to work with her insightfulness and creativity on A. Howl.
RPG Publisher from High Level Games, Josh Heath
The first time I messaged Lisa she yelled at me for asking a dumb question. I’m so thankful I messaged her back and told her she was right and I’d love to have her help me ask the right questions. Working with Lisa on RPG projects was amazing. She’d pitch ideas that were awesome and I’d tell her that, and then help her tease the concept from idea to draft to final product. She didn’t need me though, I was just there to reinforce that she was already a worthy writer. Her work has layers, she had a sense of worldbuilding that inspired me immediately.
When she wrote her script for the A Howl graphic novel collection I read it and just…stopped. I put down everything I was doing and read it twice. That is what her work does. It makes you stop. It makes you pay attention. It draws you in. I think that deserves to be a short movie. And her work published by Carnegie Mellon? That’s a world I want others to create more stories in.
She’ll always be with us because her stories will live on in the world forever.
Author and Journalist, Vincent Schilling
I worked with Lisa J. Ellwood for nearly half of my career as a journalist and writer, mostly with Indian Country Today.
In my career, I have not met another journalist with such dedication to getting things done just right to the extent she did. She took everything into account in terms of being respectful to any community that might read her work.
I remember the several-hour phone call we had together when working to publish her article on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women that she had literally worked on for about 10 years. There were times she stood her ground to make a point, and other times when she listened and agreed to make adjustments. She was a true professional.
She was insightful, intelligent, thoughtful and more than anything, diligent. In my opinion, her work with some of the most flawless work I have ever read. There will never be another Lisa J. Ellwood. I will miss her terribly.
Lisa J. Ellwood’s Favorite Quotes
“Chase the dream, not the competition and the magic will happen.”
Lisa J. Ellwood
“You can tell a trailblazer by the number of arrows in her back.”
Lisa J. Ellwood
“Don’t think, feel. It is like a finger pointing a way to the Moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”
Bruce Lee, Enter the Dragon
“I have a lot of buried treasure in here, and very few people have the map…”
Mitch Silpa, Dinner Conversation
Notable works by Lisa J. Ellwood
Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, is the founder and editor of Native Viewpoint. With over 16 years of experience as a Native journalist and former member of the White House Press Pool. Follow Vincent on Twitter at @VinceSchilling or on any other of his social media accounts by clicking on any of the icons below.
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