Renewables on Tribal Homelands: A Rosebud Sioux Renewable Energy Conference

Enjoy these pictures from the Renewables on Tribal Homelands conference held April 28th-April 30th, 2010 in Rosebud, South Dakota.  The event was a great success!  For more information please contact Liz Sunderland, TWP’s Tribal Lands Coordinator, at liz@treeswaterpeople.org.

Winona LaDuke Visits Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center

In photo: Richard Fox (TWP), Henry Red Cloud (LSE), Winona LaDuke, Bret Tschacher (LSE), Liz Sunderland (TWP)

Internationally acclaimed Native American author, orator and activist Winona LaDuke made a visit to the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center on Monday to tour the facilities and discuss future projects with staff from Trees, Water & People and Lakota Solar Enterprises.

LaDuke’s visit coincides with the Renewables on Tribal Homelands Conference, which will begin today, April 28th, and run through Friday, April 30th. Sponsored by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe; Trees, Water & People (TWP); Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE); and the National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL), the conference will highlight the energy cost problems faced by the Indian Reservations of the American West, the new and developing family and facility-scale alternative energy projects being implemented to address these problems, and the future possibilities for Native American renewable energy development.

Henry Red Cloud & The Return of Indian Entrepreneurship

Trees, Water & People’s good friend and partner, Henry Red Cloud, is featured in Indian Country Today’s article, “The Return of Indian Entrepreneurship.” Congratulations, Henry!

Register for the 2010 Renewables on Tribal Homelands Conference

Renewables on Tribal Homelands: A Rosebud Sioux Tribe Renewable Energy Conference will be held April 28-30, 2010, at the Rosebud Casino & Hotel in South Dakota. Sponsored by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe; Trees, Water & People (TWP); Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE); and the National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL), the conference will highlight the energy cost problems faced by the Indian Reservations of the American West, the new and developing family and facility-scale alternative energy projects being implemented to address these problems, and the future possibilities for Native American renewable energy development.

Renewables on Tribal Homelands is all about bringing renewable energy into tribal communities and homes. The conference is open to all tribes and individuals who are interested in renewable energy technologies and looking for ways to start and fund innovative projects.

Henry Red Cloud stands next to one of Lakota Solar Enterprises’ solar heating installations


The Rosebud Reservation has been at the forefront of tribal renewable energy development, making this an ideal opportunity to explore the future of Native American renewable energy innovations and opportunities. Participants will tour multiple sites on the Reservation, including the Little Thunder Project, a demonstration site for multiple renewable energy applications. This project utilizes the home of Rosie Little Thunder, the head of a well-known traditional Lakota family. The renewable energy demonstrations on the site include windbreak and shade trees, a solar air heater, photovoltaic panels, and a small wind turbine.

Participants will also visit the 750 kilowatt utility-scale commercial wind turbine at the Rosebud Casino. Purchased in 2003, this is the first commercial wind turbine in the lower 48 states wholly owned and operated by a Native American tribe. The Sicanyu Lakota of the Rosebud Reservation also negotiated the first tribal sale of carbon offset “green tags” generated by this turbine to NativeEnergy of Vermont. Site tours will also include visits to a straw bale house and solar heater installations.

The last day of the conference will address future renewable energy projects and opportunities, using case studies of other tribes’ renewable energy efforts. Included will be a presentation by Henry Red Cloud, proprietor of Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE), about the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC). Located on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, RCREC provides tribes with training by and for Native Americans in solar heating and other renewable energy applications. Along with tours and presentations, the conference will feature traditional dinners and cultural activities in the evenings.

For more information about this event or to register, please contact Liz Sunderland at Trees, Water & People at 970-484-3678, liz@treeswaterpeople.org, or Deana Haukaas at Rosebud Sioux Tribe Utility Commission at 605-747-4097, deanaml@hotmail.com.

Henry Red Cloud Featured in Native Peoples Magazine

Henry Red Cloud, founder of Lakota Solar Enterprises, is featured in the latest Native Peoples Magazine!  The article, titled “Renewable Energy in Indian Country: Opportunities and Challenges Abound,” discusses the “growing American Indian effort to tap the economic and environmental benefits of clean, renewable energy, a step that consequently lessens dependency on fossil fuels.”  Thank you to Native Peoples Magazine and Jodi Rave for the wonderful article!

First Solar Heating Training at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center

Six members from the Rosebud Tribe attended the first training lead by Henry Red Cloud (proprietor of Lakota Solar Enterprises) at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) from January 26th to February 5th to learn how to assemble and install solar heating panels.

Trees, Water & People (TWP) partnered with Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE) on the Pine Ridge Reservation created RCREC in 2007. The center is unique in providing hands-on training in renewable energy applications for Native Americans, by Native Americans. Training and strategies to help tribes establish successful solar installation programs are provided now and other renewable energy application trainings will be added in the future.

For five days the participants learned and practiced the step-by-step process for assembling solar heating systems at RCREC. They then helped with the actual installations of systems for homes at Pine Ridge. They also learned the economic and environmental benefits of clean solar energy.

Rosebud’s Housing Authority Sicangu Wicoti Awanyakape and the Rosebud Sicangu Nation Employment and Training Program have purchased materials for 50 solar heating systems, which their newly trained and certified solar technicians will assemble and install at Rosebud. “I will be able to take this training home and utilize it for our people,” commented trainee John Little Elk.

TWP Makes Progress at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

This last week was an important one as our good friends from the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) came to visit us on the Pine Ridge Reservation. RREAL is working to break down financial and informational barriers to the widespread use of solar energy out in Minnesota. They feel that like the digital divide which separates communities based on access to information, there is also a renewable energy divide and that specifically lower income communities are in danger of being left behind as our society shifts towards a renewable economyrreal-solar-heater-at-childrens-village.

These are our types of folks and a natural friendship has evolved that is slowly becoming a successful partnership as we share ideas, equipment and a vision to extend solar heating systems and other renewable energy applications to those who need it most.

This week, Jason Edens Tim Ollhoff and Steve Benson arrived at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) on Pine Ridge with three of their solar heating systems. The first one they installed with Henry and Avery Red Cloud of Lakota Solar Enterprises at the Lakota Children’s Village, which serves as the home for Lakota children in need of shelter.

It was a most wonderful installation that will provide heat for pennies a day for Lakota children in great need for many years to come!

Their second solar heating system was installed as a solar demonstration and education unit at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center. The Center is being developed as a place for tribal members from across the Great Plains and beyond to be trained in facility and family sized renewable energy applications and installations.

The third unit will be installed by Lakota Solar Enterprises for another family at Pine Ridge in the weeks ahead.

We also planted windbreaks and shade trees for two families at the Fraggle Rock community in Pine Ridge. The north wind there blows hard and cold for much of the winter causing entire rooms in homes to be abandoned during winter because they are so cold. So we plant trees as family windbreaks which will immediately start to shield the homes from the bitter chill and will grow over the years into a solid wall of protec

tion. We also planted two shade trees at each house to provide shade during the extremely hot summers.

Children's Village in Pine Ridge

While we were in the neighborhood, we also installed one of LSE’s solar heating systems. Together, we will use these three homes to demonstrate natural ways to lower heating costs and we will now begin to raise funds for additional tree planting in the neighborhood in the spring of 2009.

A special thanks to TWP’s Tribal Lands Program Coordinator, Liz Sunderland, who coordinated the RREAL visit and handled many of the logistical details of getting these five installations done.

That’s the true spirit of Trees, Water & People....getting difficult things done…. and done well!

Each dreaming their own version of peace and reconciliation…

I just got back to Colorado from another trip to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Henry and Avery Red Cloud and a TWP friend and donor, Al Byrnes, and I were installing another of our solar heating systems. We’ve previously done about 200 solar heating systems for families on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations. This one, though, was very special.

It was for and at the KILI Radio station, the Voice of the Lakota Nation. Our workshop installation was in conjunction with a major celebration honoring KILI Radio’s 25th anniversary of being on the air, as well as a celebration for the installation of a very amazing pretty darn big wind turbine that will produce about 1/2 the electricity the station needs to operate. It is indeed another big step forward for Energy Independence across the seven Lakota reservations.

Honor the Earth was a big sponsor of the wind turbine project and was there for the celebration, as was the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy (ICOUP). Bands, speakers, the solar heater workshop and installation, a feast, and an amazing giveaway … made this installation all very powerful and good.

We then returned to the mini-campground at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center there at Pine Ridge. Henry and Avery live there at this developing sustainable living center.

A major core is the renewable energy training center where Native Americans are trained in family and facility scale renewable energy applications. We are currently building a loft in our main building with two bedrooms, a bathroom and small kitchen so visitors from other tribes have a place to stay as they learn about solar heating, windbreaks, wind turbines, shade trees and the making of solar electricity.

On the Sustainable Living side, there is also a small straw bale office, a greenhouse and garden area, a sweat lodge and a some of the bison from the Red Cloud herd.

For more info on what we are doing, check out our Tribal Program on our website – www.treeswaterpeople.org. Your friendship, your help, prayers and financial support are all greatly needed and appreciated for us to raise the funds and finish manifesting this amazing project.

After a night of stories around the campfire and some fire dancing and fun, we went to sleep … me … in a Red Cloud tipi in the middle of the Sioux Nation … each of us dreaming about our own version of peace and reconciliation.

Richard Fox
National Director
Trees Water & People

Sponsor a Lakota family

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.

Richard