Native Village Youth and Education News

April 1, 2009 Issue 196 Volume 4

Tribe gets OK for radio station
Becky Kramer
Condensed by Native Village

Coure d'Alene Reservation, Idaho: The Federal Communications Commission has approved the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's reguest to start a radio station on their reservation.

KWIS FM 88.3  will reach all 8,000 households. By tuning in, residents can check winter road conditions on the tribe's 345,000-acres.  Or listen to a broadcast in Snchitsu'umshtsn, the Coeur d'Alene language. Or catch a recap of the latest tribal council meeting.

The tribe has a three-year window to get the station on the air. The signal will be broadcast from a butte in Heyburn State Park.

Live broadcasts also would be valuable during the huckleberry harvest, said tribal member Valerie Fast Horse. As families head to the mountains in late summer to pick berries, a traditional food, they need up-to-date information about fire danger and weather, she said.

Last fall, the Coeur d'Alenes were among 37 tribes that applied for FCC licenses to run noncommercial FM stations. The applications, mostly for frequencies in rural areas, came at the urging of Native Public Media.

"We had a full-fledged campaign to get tribal applications," said Loris Ann Taylor, executive director of Flagstaff, Ariz.-based Native Public Media, which is a spinoff of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.

Thirty-three of the nation's 562 federally recognized tribes operate radio stations.  Radio is "a medium that works for Native America," Taylor said. "It's a huge, untapped resource."

Taylor also sees radio programming as a way to strengthen and preserve Native cultures, including language, music and story-telling. Most stations also reach a non-Indian population who can learn more about the tribe and it's culture.

"Unfortunately, Native Americans have suffered from stereotypes in the mainstream media," Taylor said. "This way, ethnic people get to tell their own stories in ways that are accurate and true."

The tribe has also applied for a federal grant to hire a radio project manager to craft a plan for getting KWIS 88.3 on the air and across the reservation.

KWIS means "to be called" in the Snchitsu'umshtsn language. "It's like we're calling all Coeur d'Alenes," Fast Horse said.


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