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

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