Mikiits Athum / About

The Krew at Avi Kwame, Spirit Mountain

Mikiits Athum? (Who is that?)
Kwatsan Radio Launched! by: Chris McDaniel-Yuma Sun

No matter where on earth they go, the Quechan people now have a direct link to their homeland, thanks to the hard work of a young group of visionaries in the tribe. Kwatsan Radio, an Internet-based, nonprofit radio station, is up and running and can be accessed anywhere as long as there is a connection to the Internet.

“The beauty of it is it’s completely decentralized so everybody can (listen to) it at their home or on the road,” said Brian Golding Sr., radio personality and vice president of business affairs for Kwatsan Radio.

“I was listening to it and manipulating it from my hotel in Bolivia about a month ago, and was messing around with it in the Netherlands,” Golding said. “From a listener point of view, you can get it on your laptop if you have a Wi-Fi connection, hand-held computer, cell phones, smart phones – it’s all accessible and mobile.”

The station, which can be found at KwatsanRadio.org, provides constant programming created by members of the tribe, along with several non-Quechan musicians and DJs. Anyone tuning in online can expect to be immersed into a world of Native American songs, hip-hop, classic rock, indie rock, ska, punk and reggae. The station’s leaders say Kwatsan Radio is more down to earth than a standard AM/FM station because the programming, which includes talk shows and political views of tribal members, is created by locals with locals in mind.

Station leaders explained why the radio station’s name is spelled Kwatsan instead of Quechan. They said “Kwatsan” is a more traditional spelling and pronunciation of the tribe’s name. The station, however, is a private venture and not directly tied to the Quechan Indian Tribe. Since the radio station doesn’t go over the air, it is not subject to the rules of the Federal Communications Commission, which means listeners may hear words or lyrics that are taboo for regular radio.

“It’s not like it’s profanity radio,” Golding stressed.

The grass-roots group that has seen their dream of live radio come to life includes Golding, Escalanti, Charles “Mic Titan” Escalanti, Janyse Collins-Solorio, Lycia Ortega and Armando Madero. They say they want to use cutting-edge technology to bring the tribe together, even across vast distances.

“The reason why we came together to do this radio station was not just to get music out there to people,” said Ortega. “It was to entice everyone, especially the Quechan people, to come to our website because a majority of it will be Quechan cultural content.

“We basically just wanted to get our whole tradition back to people in a medium that was more modern.”

Escalanti said the group wants to attract Quechans living far from home, “especially our urban Quechans that have been disconnected by being away from home. This is one way for them to reconnect.”

Ortega said Kwatsan Radio hopes that the tribe uses the forum as a new medium to discuss everyday issues, both big and small.

“We would like to be a forum for everyone to be able to be their own voice in our community, and to be able to express their own opinions and not be censored,” Ortega said. “They can tell their views and invite others to listen as well.

“It is a place where they don’t (have to) feel like something is holding them down, and they don’t have to hide and they don’t have to cover up anything. They can just be themselves. They can just be Quechan.”

According to Golding, listeners will have a direct hand in deciding what is played on the radio station.

“Content would actually be produced by listeners who contribute to the website and possibly they would even be invited to do a show if they show the initiative and the interest, kind of like the college radio model,” he said.

Madero, the Kwatsan Radio web developer, said he hopes the new format brings the Quechan together.

“Everybody will be able to get connected with each other. We are going to try to get some local flavor and also some indigenous worldwide flavor mixed in there.”

The radio station already has listeners in New Zealand, for example.

Escalanti said he hopes the radio station will bridge the gap between generations on and off the reservation – through technology. The station’s motto is “Together we connect.”

“The kids today are in an iPod world – in a mobile world. How do we communicate to those kids? This is the way to do it by giving them downloadable educational, political, whatever-you-need content. It’s right there at their fingertips. They want it, they can have it. I think that is something that hasn’t been around – easy access to information – especially Quechan information, and I think we are going to make that effort to give it to them.”

Escalanti said the station is going to be more than just radio.

“We are going to be very community driven … We are trying to create a family feeling again within the area.”

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