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

“Lakota Past and Present” Adventure

Over the last five years, TWP has been bringing family-sized renewable energy applications to tribal communities. During most of that time, we have worked with Henry Red Cloud on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Henry is the owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises and has led most of our renewable energy workshops and installations. Recently, we have expanded our partnership with Henry to develop the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, a facility that will train Native Americans about renewable energy applications for many years to come.

While our primary focus has been on providing Lakota families with more than 200 solar air heating systems, we have also been involved in solar electric and wind turbine installations as well as planting trees as windbreaks for more than 130 additional Lakota families.

Most of our work has been on the Pine Ridge reservation, but we have also installed demonstration solar heaters for families on nine other reservations ranging from Skull Valley in Utah to White Earth in Minnesota.  Four of these installations were done in partnership with Winona LaDuke and the Honor the Earth organization.

Over the years, we have had many people ask to come with us and learn about the Lakota people, conditions at Pine Ridge, and our efforts to build renewable energy capacity in tribes across the Great Plains. We have brought some of these folks to Pine Ridge in the spring to help us during our last 6 years of tree planting there.

This fall, we will begin to gently expand our efforts to engage more people in working with Lakota people to build a more sustainable energy program and reduce outrageously high utility bills. We believe that with energy prices continuing to rise, and potentially doubling over last winter’s costs, that we need to do everything we can to get more solar heating systems in place and protect more tribal families, especially the elderly and children.

These supplemental solar heaters will reduce heating costs by 20-30% for 20 to up to 30 years for pennies a day and should be a part of every tribes new energy policy. Check out our website for more information.

Please take a moment to read the flyer about the Lakota Past and Present Adventure. I hope you will consider attending and that you will pass it on to your friends and associates for their consideration.

Richard

Tribal Lands program in National Geographic

Trees, Water & People and Henry Red Cloud are featured in an article about the Lakota that appeared in the July 2008 edition of National Geographic France, written by Sylvie Brieu with photographs by Asim Rafiqui. Following is a translated excerpt from the article:

National Geographic France

Wounded Knee remains an open wound . . . . The struggle for independence and self-determination continues, if less violent than in the past centuries. Today’s community leaders are waging other kinds of battles. I’m meeting with one of them at Big Bat’s, one of the few meeting spots on the reservation. The dynamic Henry Red Cloud, 48 years old, 5th generation descendant of a great chief of the Sioux, defines himself as a 21st century warrior. “Here, we are in a survival operating mode on a daily basis.” Henry says with a nod. “So, we’ve got to fight. I help families reclaim and then utilize the lands that the BIA confiscated – under the pretext that the people were incompetent – in order to lease them at a below market price. I promote organic gardens, self-sufficiency and renewable energies.”

Henry heads a small company, Lakota Solar Enterprises, supported by Trees Water & People. Over the last three years, he has equipped more than 200 households with solar heaters. “In this region winters are harsh. Temperatures can drop below – 40° F. More than 60% of the population lives below the poverty level and can’t afford to heat their homes with either propane or electricity.”

“The sun is part of our way of life and we honor the sun through our Sun Dance. To incorporate solar and wind energy technologies into our everyday life is a way to continue living in harmony with the Earth.”

Henry smiles, looking towards the future: “Our generation is the one that must do the healing. By reclaiming our land and bringing back the buffalo, the members of our community will be able to go forward and resolve their problems.”

Upcoming Clean Energy Education events

Our Clean Energy Education program will be involved in a couple of exciting events coming up.

First is the Fire Mountain Music Festival, a two-day event August 22nd-23rd at the Mishawaka in the Poudre Canyon. It’s a music festival with green workshops, products, zero waste, and demonstrations. TWP has been invited to bring the SunMobile up for both days, and we will also have a table in the products section to highlight our carbon offsets and also have some of great items from our Sustainable Gifts catalog.

The second event is also pretty cool! At the Comedy Works in Denver, the 3 pm and a 7 pm show on Sunday, September 14 will benefit Trees, Water & People! We will be there with a table of information about our programs, and the performer will also be “passing the hat” for us too.

So come out and support us at either of these fun events!

Elizabeth

The Healthy Rivers Fund and Stream Teams

Trees, Water and People is working on a research project with the Colorado Water Conservation Board to document success stories and lessons learned from the Colorado’s Income Tax Check-Off Program, now caled the Healthy Rivers Fund.

It is a great program that deserves your support. Here is one example of what is being done in the field. If it sounds interesting, you should consider volunteering for your local stream team! Here is a quote from a Stream Team participant for you to consider.

Being a member of a Stream Team really gives you the feeling of being part of a team and making a difference for the environment. The team works together to learn more about water quality and to become more efficient at sampling. The volunteer work helps you care about the stream and take ownership of the stream in your area. It makes you feel good about yourself for doing something positive.

Being at the top of the watershed in Eldora/Nederland gives a good baseline of the various measurements of water quality (nitrates, phosphates, pH, conductivity and Dissolved Oxygen). It will be interesting to compare our values to the ones downstream from Boulder or further east. We‘ve had passer-bys stop and ask what we are doing. People are curious about why all these people are standing or wading in the creek and setting up test equipment on the back of a truck.  It is a good educational opportunity to tell people what we’re doing and why we’re doing the stream analysis.

 

The fun part is wading in the creek to take samples and to check the width, depth and flow.  Our first training session was early spring when there was still plenty of snow on the ground. We had to use one team member’s cabin/living room to do the analyses since it was too cold to do it outside. Our trainer’s (Paul’s) boot leaked and the water temperature was about 40 degrees F! He never said a word until he poured out his boot and changed socks. The Stream Team also gives you a chance to meet your neighbors and to establish friendships. It’s a great way to become part of the neighborhood. If you like to be outdoors and care about the environment, join a Stream Team today and “Keep it Clean, ‘Cause we’re all Downstream”!

 

Bonnie Greenwood

Eldora/Nederland Stream Team

Nederland, Colorado

 

 

TWP’s Partner Turns 50 and How to Win a Prius!

TWP is partnering with a number of dynamic, grassroots watershed groups in the Headwaters region. The Flathead Lakers, TWP’s partner in Montana, celebrated their 50th anniversary on July 16th. Congratulations are in order for the Lakers, one of the nation’s leading watershed organizations. If you have ever visited Flathead Lake and been lucky enough to enjoy its remarkable beauty, you owe a big “thank you” to the Lakers. If you are interested in what the group is doing visit their website (www.flatheadlakers.org). If you want to help them out, buy a raffle ticket to win a new Prius!

Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center

The Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center will be adding two bedrooms, a bathroom and kitchen this summer to accommodate visitors coming from other tribes to learn about solar heating and other renewable energy applications. The Center is managed by Henry Red Cloud who is also the owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises and TWP’s main partner on the Pine Ridge Reservation. It currently includes our main facility, as well as a small strawbale office, greenhouse and garden area, a sweat lodge and several buffalo from the Red Cloud herd.

The new addition to the Center will be in the form of a loft built into our main work and solar heating assembly area. It will be built with volunteers from our friends at Re-Member, a non-profit organization headquartered on Pine Ridge that provides bunk beds, weatherization and other home assistance to Lakota families there.

The materials will be paid for through generous gifts provided by our supporters… who work with us to develop new ways to honor the old ways.

Our Tribal Lands Renewable Energy Program works primarily on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, but also on nine other reservations across the Great Plains and beyond.

Richard Fox