FNX is the only nationally distributed TV channel devoted to showing Native American, world indigenous content

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FARMINGTON — A TV channel devoted to programming that tells stories from Native American and indigenous communities is expanding its reach in Farmington and the surrounding area.

KNME, the PBS affiliate based in Albuquerque, started carrying FNX, which stands for First Nations Experience, in October on over-the-air channel 5.3. It recently expanded to include Comcast channel 393.

FNX is the only nationally distributed television channel devoted to showing Native American and world indigenous content. It originates from KVCR, the PBS affiliate in San Bernardino, Calif., according to the network's website.

Franz Joachim, general manager and CEO of New Mexico PBS, said KNME initially set FNX to run in a testing phase in October, but it immediately became popular and feedback was positive, so the decision was made to leave it operational.

"It seems to be a broadly accepted channel," Joachim said.

One of the reasons FNX was brought to New Mexico was because of the state's large Native American population, he said. It offers programming produced by Native Americans, and the programs reflect Native American and indigenous populations, Joachim said.

FNX launched in September 2011 and is now available on 20 stations across the U.S. Five of those are tribe-operated.

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Frank Blanquet, chief content manager for FNX, said the channel started by airing content about tribes in California and then expanded to a 24-hour broadcast that includes various programming.

Programs include documentaries, cooking, gardening, arts, children's and dramatic series.

In December, the channel broadcast the Navajo language version of "Finding Nemo," and it recently aired the independent comedy, "Blue Gap Boy'z," which was filmed on the Navajo Nation and starred Navajo actors.

"I think we look for culturally relevant stories. … FNX connects you in no other way a station can," Blanquet said.

FNX also airs content submitted from independent producers and filmmakers that focuses on native communities and issues as well as music videos from Native American and indigenous artists. The latter airs on a program called, "AUX – The Aboriginal Unity Experience."

"The idea is to get communities to submit content because it's essentially their channel," Blanquet said.

RELATED: Navajo language version of 'Finding Nemo' splashes into theaters

Although the channel does not cover breaking news, it develops original content that focuses on issues surrounding native communities, such as preserving sacred sites and environmental protection. One such project will focus on the Gold King Mine spill.

For that coverage, FNX interviewed farmers on the Navajo Nation who were affected by the August 2015 spill.

Blanquet said the project is in post-production and is produced by Sahar Khadjenoury, a member of the Navajo Nation from Aneth, Utah. It is scheduled to air in April as part of the news segment, "FNX Now."

Next month, FNX will offer special programming, starting with the March 10 broadcast of "Trudell," a documentary about the late Native American activist and poet John Trudell.

The channel will also show "Wisdom of the Grandmothers" at 7 p.m. March 17, and "I am Chut Wutty" at 7 p.m. March 24.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

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