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White Earth plans to launch radio station

Organizers on White Earth hope to have the first Native American radio station on the air in Minnesota.

In June, the Federal Communications Commission announced that Niijii Broadcast Corporation was a tentative selectee in a competitive process to secure a license to operate a radio station serving northwestern Minnesota.

The project is designed to serve the White Earth reservation area and further into the region with two towers and will provide service from the area near Detroit Lakes to nearby Bemidji and nearly to Red Lake reservation.

The project is coordinated by the White Earth Land Recovery Project, which applied for the license in October of 2007, the first time this opportunity for a community broadcast license had been opened to application in l4 years.

Niijii's coordinator Andrea Hanks said, "The communities on the White Earth reservation have been waiting a long time for this station to become a reality, to hear a native voice on the daily radio, is going to be great."

There are 33 Native American radio stations with 100 percent Native American content in the U.S. There are presently no Native American radio stations on any Minnesota reservations, although the Leech Lake reservation is in concert with the White Earth Land Recovery Project in applying for an FCC license.

There is, in general, a very large disparity in news and content void for Native communities; 99 percent of Indian country is not covered by Native American content.

The WELRP will start up an Internet news service and radio programming during the upcoming year to begin providing the infrastructure for development of the radio station. The radio station will be located at the Callaway offices of the WELRP and will also be unique in that it will be the second wind powered radio station by the time it comes on line.

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