Eighty miles south of the Oregon border, along the Trinity River in Northern California, sits the 12-square-mile Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation.
the nearly 3,000 people living in the Hoopa Valley, approximately
three-fourths are Native American. And the local radio station
KIDE-FM caters to them, offering listeners live broadcasts of the
Hoopa tribe’s general meetings; a local, award-winning, weekly show
called “Health Matters”; and an array of national programming,
including NPR newscasts and Native American public media shows.
R. Orozco, station manager of KIDE for the past 28 years, said the
station, with a $200,000 annual budget, relies on funding from the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which provides grants to
tribal stations like his.
year someone is threatening to reduce the funding or cut it out
completely,” says Orozco. “And this time it’s really scary
because they seem to be working on it.”
President Trump took office, his administration has kept the press on
their toes. As a result, social media, television, and radio have
been saturated with breaking news on the latest “alternative
facts,” anti-press-freedom rhetoric, and flood of executive orders
affecting immigration to
XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Now, according to The Hill, Trump
may be setting his sights on funding cuts to organizations such as
the CPB and the National Endowment for the Arts.
cuts take effect, tribal stations stand to lose a lot, as they rely
heavily on CPB grant funding. There are 60 stations licensed to
tribes or tribal entities in the United States, including commercial
and public radio stations. Of these 60 stations, 35 are supported by
the CPB’s Community Service Grant award, which matches each
station’s yearly fiscal budget then doubles it. Of the
government’s $445 million
appropriation for the CPB in the 2017 fiscal year, about
$7 million of CSG and additional grant support goes to tribal
stations across the United States, according to the CPB.
support of Native stations is part of a larger CPB mission,” says
Letitia King, the organization’s senior vice president for
corporate communications. That mission, she says, is “to provide
public broadcasting to all Americans for free, commercial-free, and
we have a special benefit for Native stations to ensure that they’re
able to serve their communities.”
stations’ growing concerns about potential funding cuts, King urges
tribal stations to continue to provide services to their communities.
“That service is what is persuasive for the bipartisan support for
public media,” she said, adding that the CPB has had a long track
record of that support.
A. Taylor, the president and CEO of Native Public Media (NPM), has
kept a close eye on the developments. Funded through a CPB grant of
its own, NPM provides aid to tribal governments and entities so that
they can carry broadcast licenses; it is the organization’s mission
to improve broadband access across Indian Country through media
access and ownership.
isn’t the first time the CPB has stood on shaky ground. Past
threats to cut the organization’s funding ultimately fizzled, such
as a highly publicized proposal under former President George W.
Bush. But given the Trump administration’s apparent interest in
privatizing public broadcasting, Taylor and others in public media
worry about the future.
worst-case scenario, according to Taylor, would be that small
stations such as KIDE shut down without the CPB funding.
am hoping that that will not be the case,” she says. “We’re
trying to do everything that we can in terms of alerting our small
stations to get prepared to buffer up their resources, to look at
other streams of revenue if they can.”
station fundraising and CSG grants kick into KIDE’s annual budget,
the Hoopa Valley tribe contributes a little more than $94,000, Orozco
says. Then the station raises another $6,000 from fundraising in
order to reach the minimum $100,000 to be eligible for the CPB’s
Community Service Grant. Under the station’s shoestring budget,
Orozco has set in place cost-saving innovations.
was one of the first tribal radio stations in California to have a
hybridized solar power system, which has allowed the station to cut
back on electricity costs by 60 percent. And recently the station has
begun to stream its broadcast service through its website. Still,
KIDE requires funding for basic operations. “We rely on the
CPB funds to pay the electricity and telephone, plus all of our
national programming that we get off the satellites,” says Orozco.
“Our streaming, our website. Everything.”
has plans for the future of KIDE and continues to apply for
additional grants to improve community engagement and participation
with all of Hoopa Valley. He’s working on bringing back a call-in
show, for instance, but that’s been held up by a long list of
equipment repairs. Taylor said she’s found over the years that
communities place a lot of trust in and reliance on tribal stations,
as the isolation of rural Indian Country can be compounded by a
landscape where broadband access is limited.
is more acutely felt in Alaska, says Jaclyn Sallee, president and CEO
of Koahnic Broadcast Corporation and KNBA in Anchorage. Twelve of the
60 tribal stations in the United States are located in Alaska.
Koahnic produces Native programming, which includes “National
Native News,” “Native American Calling,” and “Earth Songs.”
They distribute programming through Native Voice One to more than 350
radio stations across the country. Sallee says Koahnic and KNBA
receive three separate grants from the CPB.
to Sallee, state funding to public radio stations has been cut by 50
percent over the past two years. “The local stations are a lifeline
for listeners,” especially in remote regions where locals may rely
on stations as their sole source for national, state, and local news
or emergency information, Sallee says.
is the case for KZPA-AM, Gwandak Public Broadcasting, Inc., which
serves Fort Yukon, Alaska. Though the community’s population is
estimated to be around 600, thousands have come to rely on the
station’s programming because it’s one of few stations for miles
around, says Vicky Thomas, KZPA’s office manager.
do a lot of search-and-rescue stuff that’s vital to our community,
like missing people,” says Thomas. “During the springtime, we do
flood watch, because our water has been very high, coming in at
hopes the station’s budget will hold steady with CPB funding; she
doesn’t believe KZPA could survive without it. “Funding has been
diminishing throughout the years,” she says. “We’re doing a lot
of planning in case something like that happens.”
in the Lower 48, Orozco likens the importance of funding for tribal
stations to an oft-forgotten federal trust responsibility between
tribes and the United States. In his eyes, the United States has not
done enough to reestablish tribal communication systems through
stations like his.
media is a sovereign right that was never returned to us,” says
Orozco. “It is the fourth estate. The people need to have that
balance. That’s what media does, be it a newspaper or radio."
The article above was written by Christine Trudeau and is reprinted
from In These Times.