Native Airwaves

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Image by Milt Lee /

Urban airwaves may be saturated with all the Beyoncé and Kenny Chesney that Clear Channel can broadcast, but rural frequencies still have some room to breathe–and a torrent of new Native American radio stations will soon fill some of that airspace with tribal tunes, stories, and indigenous languages. According to In These Times (Oct. 2008), Native radio got a significant boost in 2008, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved new non­commercial FM stations for 12 tribes. Dozens of others have applications pending.

When these nascent stations hit the air (they’re still in the planning stages) they’ll be accessible to people regardless of income, education, or tech savvy. Members of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate tribe in South Dakota hope their FCC-approved station will help promote and preserve the Dakota language, which is slipping away.

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