Notes from the Field: Solar Heating Arrives to the Navajo Nation

by Lacey Gaechter, National Director

solar air heater Navajo
Eva Stokely inspects her new solar air heater outside her home in Shiprock, NM.
Eva and Lacey outside the school named for Mrs. Stokely.

Last week I traveled with Henry Red Cloud – our Tribal Renewable Energy Program partner – to Shiprock, New Mexico, for Trees, Water & People’s (TWP) first ever project with the Navajo (Diné) Nation. TWP donated and installed a solar air heating system on Eva and Pete Stokely’s home, two retired Diné teachers, home. It turns out that Eva and Pete were the first Navajo teachers hired in the Shiprock district of the reservation. It was really an honor to meet people who played such an important role in that turning point in history – when education returned to the Diné people. Eva actually ended up becoming a school principal and was eventually honored by having a school named after her – Eva B. Stokely Elementary School. While I was sitting with her at her kitchen table, hearing a little bit about her background, she surprised me by offering a tour of the local schools. “I like to show them off.” She explained. And so it was that I had the opportunity, along with my amazing trip photographer and intern, Christy Proulx, to see not only Eva B. Stokely Elementary, but also Shiprock Associated Schools, for which Eva now serves as a board member. Something to be proud of indeed; both of these schools offer hope for the next generation!

To many people, Eva serves as a community leader, and we are very excited to have a solar air heater saving her $20-$60 a month on her heating bills, not to mention reducing her fossil fuel use by 20-30%! With Eva to spread the word, we look forward to bringing many more heaters to the Diné people. To learn more about TWP’s Tribal Renewable Energy Program click here.

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Trees, Water & People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to developing sustainable community-based conservation solutions.

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