RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … For the past five years, a group of lay and pastoral leaders of the Navajo Nation have been working across Conference lines to develop an FM radio network known as “Diné Adventist Radio” (DAR) to share the Adventist message of hope, wholeness, and healing with the Navajo people, whose name for themselves is “Diné.”

The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American reservation with the largest indigenous population in North America, and with territory that includes portions of four Seventh-day Adventist conferences in three Union conferences. Most of the Navajo people follow traditional ways and are unreached by the Adventist message.

Since August 2020, a 30-minute weekly broadcast on the Navajo Tribal radio station has generated hundreds of Bible study requests and even led some individuals to baptism. These weekly programs are produced on a monthly rotation by Native-oriented Adventist congregations on and around the Navajo Reservation, including the Waterflow Seventh-day Adventist Church in Waterflow, New Mexico, and the LaVida Mission Seventh-day Adventist Church in Farmington, New Mexico. Their goal is to be on the air across the Navajo Nation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The FCC has already issued three full-power construction permits for stations that will cover much of the Navajo population, but there was a gap in the northeast section, the portion that is in the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC). Last fall, the FCC announced they were opening a rare “application window” for low power FM radio stations. These stations must be owned and operated by an incorporated, local non-profit organization. According to FCC rules, Adventist Churches don’t qualify as “local non-profits” because they are owned by the conference.

In response to this opportunity, members of the Waterflow and Farmington churches explored creative ways of applying for LPFM licenses. Waterflow Church already had a qualifying local non-profit, and they used it to successfully apply for an LPFM station that will cover Shiprock, New Mexico, with a population of some 8,000 Native Americans. Waterflow Church member Pam Goldtooth has offered to locate the tower on her tribal homesite lease—an ideal spot at the brow of a hill that overlooks the town.

A group of Farmington Church members created a new non-profit, Bisti Broadcasting, and successfully applied for a low power station to be located at the Piñon Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church in Farmington, New Mexico. “We are excited to engage in establishing radio programming to be broadcast from our Piñon Church,” said Karen Bowen, coordinator of the project.

Remarking on the local broadcasting project, Allen Steele, member of Adventist World Radio board of directors and advisor to the Navajo Radio Network, said, “Members of two Rocky Mountain churches took this step so that the Navajo people in the Four Corners can hear God’s last day message.” When broadcasting begins in Farmington, it will reach some 12,000 Native American residents of the area.

Each group has three years to be on the air, but they hope to accomplish this much sooner. The goal is to be broadcasting live and full time on KDHP 91.9 FM, the 100,000-watt flagship station at the heart of the reservation, by November 1, 2024, and then add other stations as soon as they are ready—including the Farmington and Shiprock stations.

The network is planned to include as many as seven stations plus worldwide streaming on the internet (www.dineadventistradio.org), reaching the majority of the Navajo Nation population. Network office and main studio will be located at the Gallup All Nations Seventh-day Church in Gallup, New Mexico.

—RMCNews with Dale Wolcott. Interim Network Manager, Diné Adventist Radio, Native American Ministries Coordinator, Arizona Conference; with Allen Steele, member Adventist World Radio board of directors and advisor to the Navajo Radio Network. Photos supplied.

Workers in Native American ministries from the Arizona, Texico, and RMC, together with their families, gathered at Camp Yavapines in Prescott, Arizona.