Mike Martz

The Medicine Game

by Mike Martz on March 10, 2015

Lincoln, Neb:  Tucked away in central New York State is the Onondaga Nation, a sovereign Native American community known to produce some of the top lacrosse players in the world. Yet, the fear of leaving their community, substance abuse, and poverty have kept far too many of these players from venturing off the “Rez” and into collegiate or professional ranks.

Enter the Thompson brothers–Jerome “Hiana” and Jeremy–who are driven by a single goal of beating the odds against them and playing lacrosse for national powerhouse Syracuse University. During the brothers’ freshman and junior years of high school, they led their school’s lacrosse team to state championships. Based on this success, many people, including the film’s director/producer Lukas Korver, assumed they would compete for the state championship again.

“Lacrosse is more than just a game–it’s a way of life, it’s a heritage. It’s being Iroquois. It’s being Native American. It’s a part of their culture, their religion, who they are,” Korver said.

During the playoffs of their senior year, the undeniably close brothers had a shockingly out-of-character fight in the school parking lot, leaving Hiana hospitalized and unable to play lacrosse during his recovery from a broken jaw. Without Hiana on the field in the school’s next playoff game, Jeremy’s play suffered. The team lost, ending their chances at a third state championship. It would take two years before the brothers’ relationship healed to what it had been.

Hiana and Jeremy’s father, Jerome “Ji” Thompson commented, “They started school late and they’ve come from so far behind to catch up and do as well as they’re doing now. And, just to get that degree to show everybody, because I know there are people out there that actually know them that don’t think they can do it.”

“A lot of people say that it’s bad around here. But myself, I don’t know. I think it’s just like any other child growing up anywhere else,” said Jeremy.

With their now unfulfilled dream of winning a third state championship, the brothers heavily pursued their ongoing, shared vision of playing lacrosse for Syracuse University. Athletically, the brothers were standouts, but academically, they struggled. The obstacles in their way were frequent and daunting, but their love for the game, each other, and their family’s unyielding determination, helped propel these youth against the odds.

Ji, who doesn’t want his sons to be ironworkers like himself and generations before, explained, “The greatest gift you can give your children is your time. I taught my boys to respect the game–the game of lacrosse. Respect means to play as hard as you can, you know. Go out there and give it everything you can because you’re playing for the Creator.”

“I titled the film The Medicine Game because the game has helped not only the Thompsons, but many families and communities to stay healthy both physically and mentally, to bond with one another, and to learn many powerful life lessons,” said Korver.

To watch the film’s trailer, visit www.visionmakermedia.org/medicine_game. The Medicine Game is distributed by American Public Television (APT) and will be available to Public Television stations nationwide Tuesday, April 28, 2015. For broadcast information in your area, please visit pbs.org/stations.

Each year KYUK Radio, like all public radio stations across the country, receives substantial financial support from the Federal government through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting- CPB.

In order to comply with the requirements of our CPB grants, each year we produce a report that describes the local content and services we have provided to our community during the previous year. This report is submitted to CPB and also must be posted on our station website.

This year I also want to present here some of the highlights of our local radio services both on the air and on line for 2014.

In 2014 KYUK 640 AM radio broadcast a total of 8,765 hours of programming. Of this total close to 600 hours was original programming. We broadcast over 4,000 hours of music, over 3,200 hours of news and public affairs, over 700 hours of arts and cultural programming and over 250 hours of sports programming including high school wrestling, basketball and the Kuskokwim 300 Sled Dog Race.

In addition to our regularly scheduled programs like Talk Line, Yuk To Yuk, Wellness Wednesday, basketball coverage and the Birthday Call-in show, some special programs of interest during in 2014 included:

  • Live broadcast of the Debates for the State: US Senate & US House
  • Live broadcast of the Yupiit Nation fisheries management meeting.
  • Live call-in program on Kuskokwim King Salmon management.
  • Live broadcast of YKHC’s annual Tribal Gathering.
  • Live broadcast of the grand opening of the YK Aquatic Fitness and Training Center.
  • Live broadcast of the YKHC Behavioral Health Conference.
  • Live studio performances and interviews with Alaskan folk artists Hobo Jim and Emma Hill.
  • Halloween & Christmas stories by John Active.
  • Live broadcast of the Bethel City Council Candidates Forum.
  • Live coverage of the AFN Convention.
  • Live coverage of two BRHS wrestling tournaments.
  • Live broadcast of AVCP’s 50th anniversary convention.
  • A live interview with a Veterans Affairs representative on obtaining VA benefits.
  • Live broadcast of the Yupiit Nation fisheries management meeting.
  • Live call-in program on Kuskokwim King Salmon management.
  • Live broadcast of YKHC’s annual Tribal Gathering.

We continue to regularly broadcast in the Yup’ik language as we have done since KYUK signed on the air in 1971.   In addition to the one-hour per week Yup’ik language talk/call in program, Yuk To Yuk, we added a second hour long Yup’ik language program featuring respected elders discussing a variety of topics of interest and value to our Yup’ik audience. Topics in 2014 included subsistence hunting and fishing rights, conservation of declining King Salmon, the political process and government involvement, tribal sovereignty, education, health care, substance abuse prevention, suicide prevention, elder care, child welfare, ANSCA issues, environmental issues and Yup’ik language and cultural preservation and enhancement.

In partnership with the Ayaprun Elitnauviat Yup’ik immersion school, we started producing a Yup’ik word of the week segment airing three times a day. We also continue to produce newscasts in the Yup’ik language three time a day every weekday and post these newscasts to our website daily.

During the election season we broadcast a special program in both Yup’ik and English providing information and explanations on all the ballot initiatives. We also broadcast in both Yup’ik and English a Bethel city council candidates forum and a debate on the marijuana ballot initiative.

We continue to broadcast Native America Calling to keep our Alaska Native community engaged in and informed about issues, topics and problems discussed nationally across Indian Country.

In keeping with our mission to “educate, stimulate, inform and provide cultural enrichment and public access”, our goal is to be the community convener, providing platforms, both on air and on line, for the dissemination of information, for dialog, discussion and debate, to offer opportunities for education and to be a point of access for resources related to the issues, problems and values of importance and interest to our community.

We do this through announcements of events, conferences, workshops and the location of available resources. We make extensive use of public service announcements in both English and Yup’ik produced with our community partners that identify resources, provide education and advice, promote healthy living and strengthen families and cultural values. We coordinate these public outreach efforts with our news reporting to broaden public awareness and response to these issues. We offer opportunities for direct community interaction through the production of long form live talk/call in programs in both Yup’ik and English that provide opportunities for the community to address their concerns, questions and comments directly to experts, educators, to their elected government representatives, to federal and state natural resource managers, health care and legal professionals, business and industry leaders and to interact with elders and tradition bearers. We broadcast, webcast and link to our website special conventions and conferences that focus on topics of importance to our listeners in the YK Delta.

We partner with a broad cross section of local, regional and state organizations including Bethel Search and Rescues, YKHC, TWC, the Alaska Children’s Trust, public safety and law enforcement, AVCP, KuC, LKSD, ONC and many more.

The key initiatives we undertook with our partners in 2014, and will continue to undertake into the future, include health and wellness, natural resources, workforce development and employment, education, local/state/federal government, regional social and economic development, public safety, domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and neglect prevention, early childhood development and Yup’ik traditional values, language and culture.

It’s our supporters, listeners like you, through your financial contributions, your encouragement and your trust and confidence in KYUK that motivates us to work as hard as we can each year to bring you news, information, education, cultural enrichment and entertainment of value to you both now and into the future. Thank you.

The full 2014 KYUK Radio Local Content and Service Report is available on the About page of our website under Reports.

Why does a non-profit organization, like KYUK, continuously asks supporters for financial assistance, you might ask. After all, we receive grants annually from both the federal and state government. Isn’t that enough? The answer is, unfortunately, no. KYUK does receive both federal and state operating grants each year. Together these funds only comprise a little more than half of the funds we need to fulfill our public media mission each year. The rest of our funds must come from other non-federal and non-state sources.

In addition, all grants, no matter where they come from, have restrictions attached to them that determine how they may legally be used.  For example, one of the community service grants we receive each year from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) may only be used to purchase nationally produced radio programming from distributors like NPR, Public Radio International and American Public Media. We cannot use these funds for any other purpose.

This and other grant restrictions can make it difficult to juggle the funds we need to cover expenses like salaries, heat or electricity.   We are required to have an independent audit of our finances performed each year to insure that we are in compliance with all of our grant rules and restrictions.

Another “string” associated with just about all grants is the requirement for matching funds. The granting agencies require these matching funds as evidence of community support for the non-profit organization’s mission and as evidence that the non-profit can contribute to paying it’s own way. One benefit of these matching funds is that they are considered unrestricted and can be used for operational expenses of any legitimate type.

For KYUK, some of the sources of unrestricted funds we generate come from charitable gaming, the fees we charge for public service announcements, fees for radio or television production work we do for local agencies or organizations and the underwriting of programming on radio and TV by local or statewide businesses and organizations.

By far the most important source of unrestricted funds, however, comes from the donations we receive from our listeners and viewers, like you, not just during our fundraising membership drives that we hold twice a year but also from programs like Pick Click Give.

We Alaskans are known for our generosity and that fact is clearly demonstrated in the amount of support KYUK receives from our loyal listeners and viewers. On behalf of all of us at KYUK I thank all of you for your continued support of public media in the YK Delta.

Pick Click Give is one very simple way to show your support for the charities and non-profits, like KYUK,  that are doing work that is important to you.

If you haven’t filed for your Permanent Fund Dividend yet, consider making a donation to a non-profit such when you apply. If you’ve already applied for your PFD, it’s not too late to return to the PFD website and make a donation.

If you are inclined to donate a portion of your dividend, consider including KYUK in your donation. However, no matter what organization you choose to support, it’s the generosity of Alaskans helping Alaskans that counts.

Love Alaska…Pick Click Give.

Current, the online newpaper of public broadcasting, reports six of the 14 2015 Alfred I duPont-Columbia University journalism awards went to public broadcasters.

Read the full article here.

Horse Tribe, a new one-hour documentary premiering this November from Director/Producer Janet Kern, explores the renaissance of the legendary horse culture of the Nez Perce–with the help of a charismatic Navajo horseman, Rudy Shebala.

Shebala has an exceptional gift of equine expertise, but faces challenges in Idaho–a land far from his traditional Navajo home. His intuitive mentorship also guides at-risk teenagers to develop self-esteem through the strong medicine of horses. With his passion for Native American identity, he brings national attention to Nez Perce horse culture. However, Shebala’s personal demons ultimately imperil his accomplishments for the tribe.

Kern originally set out to the Nez Perce to portray children and society flourishing in the company of horses, and the adaption of an ancient equestrian tradition into one with a modern purpose. But as the story evolved over the years, it became more complex. A man was in crisis and a community was in conflict–leaving their beloved herd to an uncertain fate.

Horse Tribe is an epic story about the connection of human to animal, history to life, individuals to community, grief to resolve, and values to action. Through her own experience, Kern recounts, “The inexplicably generous instincts of a people who have experienced incomprehensible loss are a lesson, a mystery, and a gift to me and to everyone they touch.”

Horse Tribe received major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Vision Maker Media.  For viewing information in your area, please visit www.visionmakermedia.org/watch

About Vision Maker Media
Vision Maker Media shares Native stories with the world that represent the cultures, experiences, and values of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Founded in 1977, Vision Maker Media, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) which receives major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, nurtures creativity for development of new projects, partnerships, and funding. Vision Maker Media is the premier source for quality Native American and Pacific Islander educational and home videos. All aspects of our programs encourage the involvement of young people to learn more about careers in the media–to be the next generation of storytellers. Located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, we offer student employment and internships. For more information, visitwww.visionmakermedia.org.

We know that Amazon.com is perhaps the biggest and definitely the most widely known online shopping site.  It’s possible to find just about anything you can imagine at Amazon.com.  Piles of Amazon boxes pass through the Bethel post office every day.

Something less well known about Amazon is AmazonSmile.  AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that gives customers access to the same products as on Amazon.com but with a difference.  When customers shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to charities selected by customers from a list of close to a million non-profit organizations.   There is no cost to either customers or charities associated with this donation.  KYUK is on the list of eligible AmazonSmile charities under Bethel Broadcasting,  Inc., our corporate name.

If you value the mission of KYUK and are also an Amazon.com shopper, please consider visiting AmazonSmile the next time you shop online using this AmazonSmile Bethel Broadcasting Inc. link.  Amazon will make a 0.5% donation to KYUK from your eligible purchases at no additional cost to you.  It’s an easy way to show your support for public media in the YK Delta.

Thank you and happy Thanksgiving.


November Rememberances

by Mike Martz on November 6, 2014

Election Day has come and gone and we’re still uncertain about who our junior Sentator will be and who will be our governor and lieutenant governor.  At least the seemingly endless flood of campaign ads and flyers has come to an end so we can breathe a sigh of relief and turn our attention to other events and rememberances this November.

November is Native Amerian Heritage month.  This is an observance that resonates with us here in the YK Delta.  Check out the free movie screenings held this month at the cultural center in honor of Native American Heritage Month.  Cable subscribers could also check out First Nations Experience (FNX) on UATV on channel 12 of the GCI cable system.  FNX offers a wide variety of programs by  and about Native Americans across Canada, the US and even Alaska.

November 11th is Veterans Day.  This is a day to remember the sacrifices made by the members of our armed forces through out our history.  Alaska ranks among the states with very high veterans populations.   The YK Delta has many veterans of all armed services, the National Guard and the ATG.  Be sure to thank the veterans you know for their service and plan to attend the Veterans Day events here in Bethel or visit the veterans cemetery to pay your respects to our fallen heroes.

Friday November 21st is National Philanthropy Day.  This is a day to acknowledge, thank and celebrate those individuals and corporations that support non-profit organizations of all kinds through investments of cash, time and other resources.  The terms philanthropy and philanthropist often conjure up images of multimillionaires who start foundations or other charitable enterprises that have a national or global impact.  However, we are all  philanthropists when we step up and make a contribution of any type or size to a charity or non-profit we believe in supporting.

I want to close by thanking the philanthropists who chose to donate a portion of their Permanent Fund Dividend to KYUK.  Your contributions mean you believe in our public media mission and are willing to commit some of your financial resources to insure our mission continues into the future.

Thank you!

Vote On Tuesday November 4th

by Mike Martz on October 30, 2014

If you’re like me, you are very tired of the negative campaigning this election season and are looking forward to election day when the tidal wave of political ads on television, radio and in our mailboxes will finally end.

Don’t let the negativity of this election season keep you from going to the polls and exercising your right as a United States citizen to vote.

Every vote is important, especially this year when so many races are too close to call and the stakes, both nationally and for Alaska, are so high.  Your vote could be the one that decides the future direction of our nation and of our state.

No matter which candidate you support, no matter what your stand is on the ballot initiatives, be sure to make your voice heard.

Vote on Tuesday November 4th.

Once again we are humbled and so very grateful to all our loyal supporters for your continued confidence in the programs and public media services we have provided to you for over 40 years.

Thanks to your generosity we exceeded our  fundraising goal of $25,000.  We’re still assessing the final total but it has surpassed $35,000.  Thank You!

This level of financial support demonstrates that KYUK continues to be a trusted and valuable asset for the people of the YK region.  We will strive every day to earn the trust you have placed in us as a strong local source of news, information, education and entertainment.  Your support helps make it happen.  You are the public in public media.

Quyana caknak!


We are in the second week of our annual Fall fund drive and have passed $20,000 or our way to our goal of $25,000.  Thanks to everyone who has supported us with a pledge.  Your contributions insure that we can continue to provide the vital public media services you rely on every day.  Your support also allows us to bring you new programming and services.

I also want to thank the Bethel VFW Post for it’s $1,500 donation, GCI for its $5,000 donation, Alaska Airlines for their contribution of round trip tickets anywhere they fly and to all the local businesses who have contributed gifts to our thank you drawings.  These contributions are greatly appreciated.

There are great thank you gifts, hot drawings, a weekly drawing and our grand prize drawing still to come.  The Village Showdown is heating up, too.  Don’t miss out on your chance to win one or more of these exciting thank you gifts.   You can donate anytime by clicking on the Donate Button on our home page.

Thanks again for supporting KYUK, your local public media station.