Trees, Water & People Announces Winner of $40,000 “Green Business in Indian Country Start-Up Award”

Tyler Tawahongva
Tyler Tawahongva accepts the Green Business in Indian Country Start-Up Award.

Trees, Water & People (TWP) is pleased to announce Tyler Tawahongva as the winner of the 2014 Green Business in Indian Country Start-Up Award. Mr. Tawahongva, a Hopi member of the Coyote Clan from Hotevilla, Arizona, will receive up to $40,000 in start-up capital and technical assistance to expand his company, Cloud Nine Recycling.

Tyler returned to his hometown of Tuba City, Arizona in 2010 after working for American Express for ten years. While exploring career options, he found that he could make extra income from recycling. He has been recycling for four years now and recently expanded Cloud Nine Recycling to include paper products, plastics, aluminum cans, metals and electronic equipment.

“This principle of being a Native and a steward of the earth is a driving force to my endeavor of creating this recycling business.” Explains Tyler, “With the award from Trees, Water and People, I will now be able to continue my mission to intercept waste from landfills and provide jobs for the local community as well as bring awareness to the need for recycling in my community.”

The Green Business in Indian Country Start-Up Award is an exciting culmination of Trees, Water & People’s annual Green Business Development Training and Business Start-Up Mentorship Program. Using the Indianpreneurship curriculum developed by Our Native American Business Network (ONABEN), this new multi-tiered approach provides Native American students with the practical knowledge, resources, and confidence needed to create their own businesses.

“We had several excellent green business plans submitted, but Tyler’s personal statement and feasibility plan really stood out. Recycling is one of the bases of community-wide involvement in addressing climate change and sustainable living, and TWP is very excited to help support Cloud Nine Recycling get a strong start.” Said Jamie Folsom, TWP’s National Director and a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

TWP is proud to sponsor this Award and offer assistance to Native American entrepreneurs like Tyler who are eager to create and grow their green business ideas.

For more information please contact Jamie Folsom at or call 970-484-3678.

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.