There are over 35 tribal radio stations scattered throughout the United States on Native American reservations that serve their local communities. They provide a source of traditional tribal music, announcements of ceremonies, community news, personal messages, weather warnings, local sports events, and national native news. Often the stations are manned by a few professionals and volunteers operating on a shoe string budget that is dependent on fund raising and grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
“Tribal Radio” tells the story of the KSUT radio station that is located, in the four corners region, on the Southern Ute reservation in Ignacio, Colorado. Through glimpses into the operations of KSUT tribal radio and its unique connection to the community, tribal activities, and ceremonies (like the Bear Dance and Sundance) it shows the value of Native stations throughout the country. Connecting the announcements and programs to the actual events through video “Tribal Radio” reveals the importance of KSUT to its listeners.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and in turn Tribal Radio stations are often threatened with being defunded. Defunding would cause many Native communities to go dark and the loss of their voices throughout the country. Given the political environment of the present, it is all important to understand the value of local tribal radio stations to the communities that they serve!
Micheal McLaughlin Director Disappear Here Film Festival, in Donegal, Ireland says “Tribal Radio was a short film that really resonated with an Irish audience as so many local radio stations here have closed due to government over-regulation. These lifelines to rural communities, like the Native Americans, should be encouraged and applauded.”
Film Maker Sean Wilder Owen with Cahuilla Bird Singers Desmond Saubel and Mike Mirelez