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Cheyenne River Sioux Uses FCC Tribal Priority to Establish Radio Station and Receives Emergency Comm

Eagle Butte, SD – On August 15, 2018, South Dakota’s newest commercial Tribal radio station – KIPI 93.5 FM went on air. Located in Eagle Butte, SD, the radio station with a 653-foot tower and antenna transmits 100,000 kW’s of power that allows KIPI’s signal to reach the entire Cheyenne River Reservation. The signal strength maps a 120-mile radius of Eagle Butte.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe utilized the Federal Communications Commission’s Tribal Priority for Broadcast to become one of six Tribally owned commercial radio stations. Station Manager, Thomas Eagle Staff, stated this was a “fruition and realization of a dream that started back in the 1980’s. It is an entity that will provide service to not only Cheyenne River, but also the surrounding areas.”

With the upcoming winter season, ice storms, blizzards, heavy snowfall, and high winds can result in hazardous driving conditions in and around South Dakota. Tribal communities, like the Cheyenne River Sioux, are prioritizing emergency preparedness using their new radio station to provide important communications in a concerted effort with local first responders.

To aid KIPI in its mission, Melissa Begay of Native Public Media facilitated a one-day training in Eagle Butte using NPM’s Emergency Communications Preparedness curriculum. Personnel from three levels of government, including the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the City of Eagle Butte, along with station manager Thomas Eagle Staff participated in the training.

“NPM’s Emergency Communications training has evolved from broadcast centric training to a broader community centered training. This allows first responders to work, support, provide help, coordinate activities and deploy crisis communication through Tribal radio stations. As more Tribes secure radio stations using the FCC Tribal Priority, NPM will be there to aid the station in meeting its mission to serve its community,” states Begay. Begay manages NPM’s Nationwide Training and Education Program.

Native Public Media was instrumental in helping to establish the FCC Tribal Priority for Broadcast in 2010.


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