At the ceremonial unity launch of FNX: First Nations Experience TV, held on February 10, Cherokee actor Wes Studi confessed he didn’t see this coming.
“Thank you for proving me wrong,” Studi said, speaking at the KVCR/FNX studios in San Bernardino, California. “I once said that I didn’t think in my lifetime I’d see a TV channel dedicated to Indian people like you and me, people who are rarely seen on screen in authentic ways. We’re making history with this powerful new media tool. This is something I can tell my grandchildren about – I’ll tell them I was there when it launched.”
Six years ago, San Manuel Chairman James Ramos brought up the idea of a Native channel with local PBS affiliate KVCR. On September 25, 2011, FNX went live as a 24/7 high definition (HD) multiplatform digital media vehicle. Ramos said FNX is “fulfilling a dream our ancestors had … using the resources we have built through gaming. It’s important that people know what our ancestors had to go through so we could be here today.”
FNX broadcasts programming about and by Native Americans and the global indigenous community. “It’s time for us to change negative perceptions about indigenous peoples in mainstream audiences,” Ramos said. “We need to stand together as one voice and make things better for our people.”
Ramos added context from his own tribe’s past. “There was a time in California’s history when there was an effort to get rid of Indian people; we were shot and killed here in the San Bernardino Mountains,” Ramos said. “Many people never heard that story, and today some people don’t want to talk about that history. But it’s important that we do so that we can learn from the past and move forward working together for a better future.”
KVCR/FNX President and CEO Larry Ciecalone said that the past year was spent “building the technical foundation of FNX,” and reported that “we’re currently in negotiations to expand our viewership through licensing agreements with service providers like Dish, Direct TV, Verizon and Comcast, among others.”
Charles Fox, Executive Director and Chief Operations Officer, discussed FNX’s programming, which will include documentaries, sports, feature films, drama series, travel and cooking shows, music, news and comedy. “We’re leading the way as producers of authentic First Nations storytelling via the Internet and over-the air, satellite and cable broadcast systems,’ he said. “As a member of the World Indigenous Television Broadcast Network, FNX is the first multimedia venture in the United States created to educate the public about Native American realities. We’re reaching out to everyone for ideas, input and support.”
Launch attendees were treated to American Indian cuisine prepared by culinary students from San Bernardino Valley College under the direction of Potawatomi chef Loretta Barrett Oden, who hosted a cooking series called “Seasoned with Spirit” on PBS, owned Native-themed restaurants, and has written a cookbook.