Through friends we came to understand that Lakota people living on reservations were paying up to 70% of their income just to pay their exorbitant heat and electricity bills. To help ease this problem, Trees, Water & People has been building and installing supplemental solar heat systems for Native American families living on reservations in the Western U.S. These solar heaters save 25-35% on heating bills, and we estimate that they will stay in service for 20-30 years. Besides keeping families warmer in the winter and saving significant money, the heaters have other benefits. Many families must choose between paying for heat, food, or medicine…a choice no one should have to make. Many families use the savings from our heaters to buy more food and medicine, so the heaters help improve health and nutrition.
Many Lakota women make beautiful star quilts. They often have to move in with other family members in the winter because their homes are too cold or too expensive to heat. When families are consolidated, there is no room for work on quilts, so this important source of income is lost during the long and bitterly cold winters. Each solar heating system costs about $1,200 for all of the material and the cost of installation. Currently, we have funding that covers about $800 of this cost, so we still need to raise about $400 per heater so we can get as many installed as possible before this next winter. We’re asking our friends and supporters to consider sponsoring a Lakota family so they can receive one of this heaters. You can help at whatever level you feel is appropriate. The Lakota are struggling…and they are holders of great wisdom. They still hear the life within the land and move with their ancestors along a powerful way. We hope you will help us to preserve this important culture and these important people.