Notes from the Field: The Gift of Heat, The Preservation of Culture

Lacey GaechterBy Lacey Gaechter, Assistant National Director

Pine Ridge, South Dakota

“The heater works great,” says Leonard Littlefinger of the solar heater that Trees, Water & People supporters donated to his Lakota language school. Our partner, Henry Red Cloud, installed the heater in the school’s meeting room, which Leonard said came in handy this winter as he consulted with tribal elders who are helping him establish his curriculum’s vocabulary and grammar. In Leonard’s words, the heater “did the trick.” “It just quietly did its job,” he added, “you know, when you get to be our age, you need a good heater.”

Leonard is the founder of the Sacred Hoop (Cangle’ska Waka’n: “chan-GLAY-shka wah-KAHN”) School, which is a part of the efforts on the Pine Ridge Reservation to preserve traditional Lakota culture. Part of learning a language, says Leonard, is understanding the way a society’s culture is integrated into its words. For instance, the Lakota word for hoop carries with it undertones of “the circle of life”. It is for this reason that Leonard chose the word hoop instead of circle for his school’s name.

The Sacred Hoop School’s first group of students is scheduled to arrive this June. Currently, Leonard is finalizing his curriculum with, as he puts it, “the combined knowledge of over 500 years of Lakota language and culture” between himself and the other elders. At this inaugural two-week immersion program, Lakota students, parents, and siblings will be invited to bring traditional language back into their home.

Leonard is truly a leader in his community and has been selected for an honorary Doctorate of Humanities from the College of Mount Saint Joseph in Ohio, where he is delivering this May’s commencement address. We hope all Trees, Water & People supporters take the same pride that we do in playing a small role in the amazing endeavor of preserving the Lakota language.

To learn more about TWP’s Tribal Lands Renewable Energy Program please visit http://treeswaterpeople.org/tribal/tribal_intro.htm .

Notes from the Field: A New Class of Solar Warriors

By Lacey Gaechter, Assistant National Director

Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the National Wildlife Federation’s Tribal Lands Program, a record 16 trainees from the Northern Cheyenne Tribe completed a ten day solar air heater installation training with our partner Henry Red Cloud. Henry traveled to Lame Deer, Montana to instruct the students in assembly and installation of solar heater kits. In addition, each trainee received a solar air heater for their family home. One of the new “Solar Warriors,” Landon Means, has been interested in renewable energy for years after growing up with his father employed by the Pea Body Coal Mine.  Landon says of the mine, “It looks like an energy intensive way to get energy. I think there’s a better way. There has to be a better way.” Landon and his cousin Kale are among the renewable energy enthusiasts now working with Trees, Water & People to develop their own sustainable livelihoods on their reservations. They both plan to attend Henry’s upcoming straw bale demonstration and hopefully his radiant heating demonstration this fall.

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Trees, Water & People could not provide these life-altering trainings without the support of our sponsors and donors. Thank you for your support, and a special thanks to the National Wildlife Federation!

For more information about TWP’s Tribal Lands Renewable Energy Program please visit http://treeswaterpeople.org/tribal/tribal_intro.htm

Proud Solar Warriors (Photo Courtesy of the National Wildlife Federation)

The Spring 2011 Edition of “Forests Forever” is Here!

We would like to invite you to read our Spring 2011 edition of Forests Forever, Trees, Water & People’s (TWP) bi-annual newsletter.  This edition is filled with inspiring personal accounts from both the people our programs serve as well as from donors who continually give to these projects.  We hope you will gain a deeper understanding of how donors like you directly and positively affect the lives of families in Central America, Haiti, and on Native American Reservations.

Please consider making an online donation to one of our programs.  If you would like your donation to go even further, consider a contribution to our Honduras clean cookstove project; each donation will be matched by the Fairfax Foundation to bring cleaner burning stoves to families in Honduras!  Please consider doubling your gift and give today.  Help us take advantage of the Fairfax Foundation’s generous offer to match your gifts and build more Justa cookstoves in Honduras.

Thank you for your support!

Journey to the Home of the Oglala Lakota

Join Trees, Water & People on a journey to the home of the Oglala Lakota for the 2011 Lakota Adventure.  From September 11th-17th we will be taking guests to the Pine Ridge Reservation to experience the strength, pride, humor and enduring culture of the Oglala Lakota. Despite hardship, the Lakota have nourished and preserved their spirituality, culture and ties with their land.

Learn about TWP’s Tribal Lands Renewable Energy Program, help build solar air heaters, and plant trees for wind breaks and shade at a local families home.  In addition, we will travel to Wounded Knee and other cultural and historical sites to learn about the Lakota culture, past and present.

Lakota Adventure 2011: A Journey to the Home of the Oglala Lakota

 

Solar air heaters are helping families to reduce their monthly heating bills by 20-30%. Help us bring hope to Native America, and join us on the 2011 Laktoa Adventure!

Join Trees, Water & People on a journey to the home of the Oglala Lakota for the 2011 Lakota Adventure.  From September 11th-17th we will be taking guests to the Pine Ridge Reservation to experience the strength, pride, humor and enduring culture of the Oglala Lakota. Despite hardship, the Lakota have nourished and preserved their spirituality, culture and ties with their land.

 

Learn about TWP’s Tribal Lands Renewable Energy Program, help build solar air heaters, and plant trees for wind breaks and shade at a local families home.  In addition, we will travel to Wounded Knee and other cultural and historical sites to learn about the Lakota culture, past and present.

For more information and reservations, please contact Lacey Gaechter at 970.484.3678 or lacey@treeswaterpeople.org today!

Thank You to the Global Harmony Community Chorus!

We would like to thank our friends at the Global Harmony Community Chorus for raising over $18,000 this month for our Tribal Lands Renewable Energy Program!  Also, many thanks to everyone who attended and generously contributed.  Donations from the event will help us to continue putting the power of nature — the warmth of the sun, the power of the wind, the shelter of trees — to work for Native Americans.

A solar heater beneficiary stands proud (Photo by Dan Bihn, 2010).

The “Songs of the Earth” concert weekend, held February 12th and 13th in Roseville, MN, featured special guests Brent Michael Davids (composer, flute) and Henry Red Cloud (5th generation descendant of Chief Red Cloud).

 

About Global Harmony Chorus

Global Harmony is an inter-faith, non-auditioned community chorus open to all who wish to sing to make a difference.  To date, Global Harmony Community Chorus has raised over $102,000 for global relief efforts.  To learn more please visit http://globalharmonychorus.org/.

Trees, Water & People and Lakota Solar Enterprises Attending the Greener Homes National Summit

Lakota Solar Enterprises Launches Website

Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE), one of the first and only Native-owned and operated renewable energy businesses, is proud to announce the launch of its new website: www.lakotasolarenterprises.com. Now, people anywhere can visit the Pine Ridge business online to purchase efficient solar air heating systems and learn about training opportunities.

Established in 2006 in partnership with Colorado nonprofit Trees, Water & People (TWP), Lakota Solar Enterprises is owned and operated by Henry Red Cloud, Oglala Lakota elder and great-great grandson of Chief Red Cloud. LSE offers home and facility-size renewable energy applications and installation training. To date, Henry and LSE have produced more than 700 innovative solar air heating systems that save tribal families 20-30% on their annual heating bills for over two decades. The efficient systems pay for themselves in just a few years. By harnessing the power of the sun to heat homes, tribes can improve their quality of life while protecting and honoring Mother Earth.

“Renewable energy is a new way to honor the old ways,” say Henry Red Cloud, Proprietor of Lakota Solar Enterprises.

LSE resides at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. The unique educational facility offers intensive hands-on renewable energy training workshops from Native American instructors. More than 150 tribal members have received training and over 50 have earned their Solar Technician I or Wind Technician I certification. With their new knowledge and skills, they are ready to enter the growing workforce in renewable energy.

To learn more about Lakota Solar Enterprises, visit their new website at www.lakotasolarenterprises.com.

“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