BERNARDINO - The country's first Native American television network
went on the air this week, fulfilling a dream the San Manuel Band
of Mission Indians and San Bernardino-based KVCR television have
been working toward for years.
First Nation Experience TV - which shows documentaries, news
and other programs focusing on Native American culture around the
clock - turned out to be the dream of so many others that it needed
to be almost instantly expanded, said KVCR President and CEO Larry
"As we worked on putting this together, especially in the
last eight months to a year as things really picked up, we found
a huge appetite for this," Ciecalone said. "So many non-natives
told us they wanted to appreciate the wealth of the culture, the
lessons of sustainability that we're trying to learn now, in 2011,
but Native America has been doing forever."
And so First Nation Experience - which since Sunday has been available
on the air by tuning to 24.2 but can't yet be found on cable - plans
to reach nationwide by next year.
Still, it's fiercely local.
"People here seriously love their community, at a time
when the only thing local (on TV) anymore is the weather,"
said Charles Fox, the network's executive director and chief operating
officer. "That really comes out on this network, and it's why
San Manuel was such a great partner."
The tribe was a founding co-partner, committing to $6 million
in donations over the next three years as the network works toward
what it hopes will be a $27million-per-year budget.
"The power and influence for the good this channel will
achieve cannot be overstated," San Manuel Chairman James Ramos
said in a statement. "Becoming a partner with KVCR supports
the tribe's mission of eradicating stereotypes that often stem from
inaccurate depictions of American Indians in commercial television."
So far, the channel shows six-hour blocks consisting mostly
of documentaries of various tribes four times per day, produced
by a staff of 13.
That should expand to become the biggest part of KVCR's operation,
said Ciecalone, ticking off some of the station's achievements,
including becoming what he said was the first public TV station
in Southern California.
"(The network) is in my mind the biggest thing we've ever
done," he said.
First Nation Experience
Content: Documentaries, news and other programs
focusing on Native Americans
Not yet available on cable, but can be accessed
on the air by tuning to 24.2