The station was founded in 1983 by members of the American Indian Movement, "the very first Indian-controlled, Indian-owned
and Indian-run radio station in the U.S.," said activist Russell Means in 2006.
As a non-profit endeavor, KILI is supported by public grants and tribal government funding.
It is governed by a board of directors composed of community leaders, such as Nellie Two Bulls.
Known as "Grandma Nellie", she was active at the local and national level as a strong proponent of the Lakota culture,
beloved as a storyteller and singer prior to her death on February 18, 2007 at age 81.