Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Interview with the Creator of 87.9 FM Karennaon:we


87.9 FM Karennaon:we logo.

On Monday February 12th, I was able to meet up the creator and cofounder of the new local radio station in Akwesasne, 87.9 FM Karennaon:we, and get an in depth interview. I had the opportunity to ask about the process and inspiration behind the new radio station. The creator of the radio station, Shatekaronhiase Skies, is a young Mohawk who is passionate about keeping our Kanienkehaka language alive and strong. A fluent speaker in Kanienkeha, he also attends the Longhouse and practices our original teachings.

He found his way out to Standing Rock, North Dakota when the standoff with Dakota Acess Pipeline was going on. It was in Standing Rock where his eyes were opened and his mind was changed. He made videos while out in Standing Rock, for people in Akwesasne and across Indian Country to see. He began to get a following through these videos which in the future, would be a blessing in disguise.

Q - When and why did you decided to create a radio station, playing only native music?

"Well, at first I wanted to just make videos talking about our language and stories, which I was doing before I went out to Standing Rock. While I was out in Standing Rock, I saw history repeating in front of my eyes and it was all so natural. It definitely set the precedent for me to come up with the idea to make the radio station later on.

It was December 20th, that I got my radio station up and running. It's funny, because of all the Christmas music, I decided to buy a radio station so I could to listen to what I wanted. I was sick of hearing all the Christmas music and thought it would be cool to have a radio station where I could listen to our original music."

Q - I understand that many who were out in Standing Rock, now deal with things like PTSD. How has your experience in Standing Rock affected you?

"The real PTSD, is coming back to our normal Rez lives, after being able to live like our ancestors did, under the stars. If we needed anything, we had it. If someone got hurt, there was someone there to heal them, we never had to leave our camp. I went into a dark place when I came back to Akwesasne, I was depressed and didn't want to leave my house. It's funny because my dad told me to find a job and get out of the house. Instead I made a radio station. I couldn't bring myself to be one of those people working a 9 to 5 job, after being able to live so freely and naturally."

Q - How did you get the radio station up and running?"

"I grew up racing RC cars and I was a geek, so I was into electronics. I was making my videos for a while until I came back from Standing Rock, and then when all the radio stations started to play Christmas music, I decided to make a radio station. I met people from all over while I was at Standing Rock, so I had people sending me music right away, from all over the place. At first, all I had was someone's old television antenna set up, until I got a bigger tower to be able to reach further to the Island (Kawehnoke). It was definitely a community effort, I had people donate their used equipment, send me songs, help me put up the tower."

Q - What are your future plans for the radio station?

"Actually the radio station just crashed. Right now, I have a GoFundMe page to help raise money to get new equipment and to make an app, so anyone anywhere can tune into 87.9 Karennaon:we. I was able to raise over $2000 in the first 4 hours the GoFundMe page was up. Someone from Malone that watched my videos while I was out in Standing Rock, donated $2000. I can't tell how many people listen to my radio station; it feels good to know I affect someone's life like that, in a good way. At first I didn't know if anyone was listening, until one day I was driving through the customs, and I rolled my window down and I could hear everyone listening to my radio station.

I do plan on doing short ads, in Mohawk, 8-10 words describing a business. I have also been working on an app, so anyone can listen in, you won't have to be in Akwesasne to tune into the radio station. It will be free to download the app, too, you will just have to look it up on ITunes."

Q - Are you open to people sending in music?

"As long the music is 75% in the Mohawk language or any other native language, when a foreign instrument is being played. I have to sit there and listen to each track that's sent in, it's a lot of work. I have to make sure there is no swearing, and not too much English is spoken. If anyone wants to send in music, they can send it to I am also open to doing interviews with elders, and doing stories in the language. Now everyone has a cellphone, so they can record anything, even if someone wanted to record one of the childhood songs we grew up with and send it in, I am willing to play it. It doesn't have to be in Mohawk either, I've had my Lakota and Seneca buddies send in recordings. I have played Cree, Lakota and Ojibway music along with our Mohawk music and people seem to enjoy it. Some of our own people here in Akwesasne have only heard the songs at the powwows, and some remember hearing our social songs when they were in school."

Q - Is there anything you would like to say to your supporters and listeners?

"All I ask is that everyone opens their eyes and ears, and see what is real. It is important to get back to our original teachings. The name of the radio station, 'Karennaon:we' means original music. Our ancestors understand the power of music, and the vibrations it sends out. I am trying to get people to open their minds, to see what is really going on in our world today, and this is the best way I can think to do it."


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