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.”