New voice of radio hits the worldwide Web

Central Council launches online station Monday serving Southeast Natives

Posted: Sunday, February 14, 2010

A new online radio station hopes to give a voice to the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures in Southeast Alaska.


Tribal Voice Radio, approved by Central Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska in December, will officially launch at 8 a.m. Monday at

"The main goal is to capture the language, clan stories and ways of life of the Native people," said project coordinator Simon Roberts. "We're looking at being able to give back to the culture a new life and gather all the communities here in Southeast as well as the Tlingits and Haidas in Canada."

Roberts, who has worked the last six months with the Tlingit and Haida's Employment and Training team and marketing coordinator Thomas Gallant, said the team sent out about eight hand-held recorders to the council's cultural representatives to collecting clan stories and interview Native elders, artists, dancers and drummers.

"Anything that happens, any current events, they'll be able to be there to record what's going on and give voice to each one of the Native communities so we're all one voice under one roof," Roberts said. "Hence the name, Tribal Voice."

The station will include a range of program topics such as preserving Native language and cultural understanding, for example.

Content of community submissions may range from contemporary or traditional Native music to family recipes, such as how to smoke salmon or dry seaweed.

"If someone wants to record, say, their family recipe of making smoked salmon or the way they dry their seaweed, we'd love to get that on there," Roberts said. "We'd love to give them a voice for their projects and their successes."

CCTHITA Business Economic Development Department manager Andrei Chakine hopes the station will attract non-Natives as well.

"It will be really nice to bring out the Native issues to the non-Native community, so that the non-Native community understands what kind of issues people here in the Southeast are dealing with," he said.

For Tlingit and Haida Central Council President Bill Martin, who initiated the idea a couple years ago, Tribal Voice will help bring Southeast Native culture to more than 14,000 members living outside the region.

"Being on the Web means we have a greater access to all of our constituents who are scattered throughout the country," Martin said. "We have organizations in Seattle and San Francisco that will have easier access to all of this information. Just being able to get all of our messages out to everybody (is important). ... It's pretty exciting."

To prepare them for the project, Roberts and marketing coordinator Thomas Gallant interned under KTOO and KRNN Program Director Jeff Brown for about five months last fall.

Other major contributors to the project include Sealaska, which gave access to its online lecture series; SEARHC, which will contribute a 50-minute program each week on Native anatomy and health; and KTOO's Kathy Ruddy and Cy Peck Jr., producers of Southeast Native Radio.

"It's nice to be able to hear those shows that had been broadcast years ago on Native topics and issues and be able to hear it again and see where we stand from then to now," Roberts said. "And some of it is just culture that we'd love to get out there. It's great that we're able to take the archives and breath life into them again."

Tribal Voice Radio is funded by the council, but it also will count on private contributions and grant funding, Chakine said.

"This project is going to take all of this cultural information that is out there, which has been diligently preserved by all the other organizations, and bring it to life by pretty much including it into everyone's daily life through this radio station," Chakine said. "So we're hoping the community will support the project."

Tribal Voice can be accessed via mobile devices as well. Roberts even made signature slogan ring tones for each clan - Eagle, Raven, Killer Whale, Bear and Thunderbird - that available on the site.

The station hopes to go to FM radio, but it will likely take about nine months to get FCC approval, Roberts said. In the mean time the station is excited to work with local artists and musicians.

Story leads and suggestions for Tribal Voice Radio can be left at 800-344-1432 ext. 7711 or ext. 7348 or at the local office by calling 463-7348 or 907-401-0773.

• Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at

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