New Seattle radio station elevates Indigenous music from around the world

SEATTLE — A new internet radio station based in Seattle is “indigenizing the airwaves,” elevating native music from the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

Daybreak Star Radio Network launched last summer as a project of the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center in Discovery Park.

“To have a whole radio station dedicated to Native Americans, Indigenous people, is monumental,” said David Hillaire, a longtime DJ from the Lummi Nation known as DJ Big Rez.

“I want the Daybreak Star Radio Network to be recognized, respected, understood as the number one Native American radio station internationally,” said Program Director Harris Francis.

The station invites Indigenous artists to send in their music.

Station manager Sherry Steele, a member of the Peoria Indians of Oklahoma, hears from people all over.

“We just got in some instrumental death metal from Ecuador, we’ve had some Sami Nation members reach out from Norway,” Steele said.

Daybreak Star Radio plays it all, from hip-hop to storytelling.

“The mission is to get the voices of Native artists and musicians out to the world, to show the world we’re not extinct, that there is Native music being made all the time,” Steele said.

“I think that’s really inspiring, for someone in the backseat of a car on the way to school to say ‘Hey, they’re indigenizing the airwaves here at Daybreak Star,’” said Dominick Joseph of the Tulalip Tribes, who helps curate the station’s social media.

“Careers can be launched, just like you see something on The Voice, it just takes the right person to hear you,” said Hillaire.

DJ Big Rez is committed to creating opportunities for native artists, on a brand-new radio station that’s finding a growing audience, and already making waves.

“I didn’t expect the explosion to happen here, I came in just to help, do my part.”