The Center of Southwest Studies and KSUT Southern Ute Tribal Radio will host a screening of the short documentary Tribal Radio (24 minutes) on Friday, September 14th at 5:30 pm in the Center’s Lyceum Room #120. A question and answer session with the filmmaker and KSUT staff will immediately follow. This event is free and open to the public.
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 the National Native News program. Often the stations are manned by a few professionals and volunteers operating on a shoe string budget that is dependent on fundraising and grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Tribal Radio tells the story of the KSUT radio station that is located on the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s reservation in Ignacio, Colorado. Through glimpses into the operations of KSUT and its unique connection to the community, tribal activities, and ceremonies, this short film shows the value of tribal radio stations throughout the country.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and in turn tribal radio stations, are often threatened with being defunded. Defunding would cause many Native communities to essentially lose their voices throughout the country. Tribal Radio seeks to show the value of local tribal radio stations and the communities they serve.
Sean Owen is a native of the San Francisco Bay area, where he studied photography and film at the San Francisco Art Institute. He received a BA at Prescott College in Arizona and a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Antioch College.
After retiring in 2005, Mr. Owen and his wife settled in Durango where he became a full-time filmmaker. Among his eight previous documentaries are Borderlands, a portrait of Cahuilla Indian performance artist Gerald Clarke, and Sing Birds, which opened the Palm Springs Native Film Festival to an overflow audience in 2009 and was nominated for best documentary at the Native American Film Festival in San Francisco. Sing Birds focuses on the ancient tradition known as bird songs, ceremonial and social singing among tribes in California and Arizona. Sing Birds is presently being used in an on-going exhibition about California Indians at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York City.
Mr. Owen finished Tribal Radio in 2017 and is now working on a documentary about Ed Singer, a well-known Navajo painter who lives in Cortez, Colorado.