Notes from the Field: Solar Heater Workshop at White Earth Trains New Group of Solar Warriors

We recently partnered with Honor the Earth, Lakota Solar Enterprises, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERT), Ojibwe Wind, and the White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP) to conduct a Solar Air Heating workshop at the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.

During the 5-day course, students learned how to assemble kits for solar air heaters and participated in hands-on solar air heater installations on White Earth Reservation homes. After the training, the White Earth Tribe will hire these new “Solar Warriors” to install ten solar heaters on the homes of tribal members.

Henry Red Cloud, the lead instructor for the training and owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises, shared his view of solar energy with the students: “It’s like a rebuilding of a nation. Taking our old way and then taking this new way. We gotta step forward all the time.”

At the end of the training, one student commented, “I really thank you guys for having Henry come and teach White Earth Members like me and my daughter and my son-in-law. This new trade that is coming, I’m so glad that it is here.”

To learn more about the workshops offered by Trees, Water & People’s Tribal Renewable Energy Program click here.


Photo of the Week: Solar Heating for Rural Native American Families

solar air heater Pine Ridge Reservation

About this photo

Henry Red Cloud, Tribal Renewable Energy Program partner and owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises, stands with Joe Yellow Hawk, an Oglala Lakota who lives near Kyle on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Yesterday, Henry and seven trainees from three different tribes (Crow Creek, Eastern Shoshone, and Navajo) installed a new solar air heater for Joe and his family as part of a 5-day training.

Joe’s family is currently dependent on wood and very expensive propane to heat their home. This new solar heater will harness the power of the sun to heat the families’ home, saving 30-40% on heating expenses every month for the next 20 years!

To learn more about the Tribal Renewable Energy Program and our solar heating systems please visit our website.


Henry Red Cloud Awarded Highest Honors from American Solar Energy Society

henry red cloud

Congrats to our dear friend and Tribal Renewable Energy Program partner, Henry Red Cloud, for receving the prestigious Charles Greeley Abbot Award from the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) yesterday in Baltimore. 

From ASES “Solar 2013” blog:

ASES awarded its highest honor, the Charles Greeley Abbot Award, to Henry Red Cloud for his work to improve the lives of Native Americans nationwide through the use of renewable energy. Red Cloud founded Lakota Solar Enterprises on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to produce an affordable, replicable solar air-heating system that saves tribal families 20 to 30 percent on their annual heating costs. In honor of past and future generations of Lakota people and of all the “solar warriors and warriorettes” in attendance, Red Cloud sang a Lakota song passed down from his grandfather and through the generations. For the song, about honoring the sun and its part in the water and life cycles, he asked those present to stand and contemplate their own part in this cycle of life, in preserving the earth’s resources and honoring the sun.

Was-te to an inspiring Solar Warrior!

(Photo by Rachael Maddox & Brian Ward)


Volunteer Opportunity: Help Build the Red Cloud Training Annex

Our dedicated volunteer base makes all our projects a success!
Our dedicated volunteer base makes all of our projects a success!

Take this opportunity to travel to our Tribal Renewable Energy Program’s headquarters on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for a long weekend of fun, hard work, and new experiences! Although it is only a five hour drive from the Trees, Water & People office in Fort Collins, Colorado, a trip to Pine Ridge offers a life-changing experience in an entirely different culture.

What: Volunteer Weekend
Where: Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, Pine Ridge Reservation, SD
When: Thursday, April 4 – Monday, April 8
Who: Flexible volunteers who like adventure, hard work, lots of fun, and all kinds of weather. Volunteers 14-18 are welcome with adult companions.
Why: Learn about the Oglala Lakota culture, meet new people, and help finish construction of the Red Cloud Training Annex.

Volunteers are invited to arrive anytime after 6p.m. on Thursday, April 4. We will host full work days Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Projects will end by 5p.m. on Sunday, and volunteers are welcome to head home Sunday evening or on Monday morning. The primary focus of this trip will be to progress with the construction of the new Training Annex. We will be painting walls, installing windows and other fixtures, and doing whatever else the building needs at that point. Additional needs may arise between now and our trip (work in the garden? chop firewood?) – flexibility is a must. Projects may be outdoors and certainly will not take place in a climate-controlled environment.


  • TWP will provide food for volunteers during their time in Pine Ridge.
  • Food purchased by TWP will be vegan (no animal products). Feel free to bring your own food if you desire.
  • TWP cooking equipment and utensils will be available for use.
  • Volunteers will be responsible for preparing all their own food, including group dinners.


  • All volunteers are responsible for their own transportation and related costs getting to Pine Ridge.
  • I will be happy to coordinate carpools where possible.
  • Our facility is located down a short dirt road. Many sedans have traveled it.


  • Volunteers are encouraged to camp on the Red Cloud Renewable Energy campus and must bring their own camping equipment to do so. Weather will be unpredictable, so only those comfortable in the outdoors should camp.
  • Also available will be bunks for up to 14 volunteers, who will share a room with up to 6 other individuals (co-ed).

To volunteer, please email the following information to Lacey Gaechter, National Director, at

  1. Name of all people in your volunteer party
  2. Email addresses for all people in your volunteer party
  3. Your cell phone number
  4. Which days you have available to travel to and work in Pine Ridge
  5. Where you will be coming from and returning to (e.g. most people will be coming from Fort Collins, CO)
  6. Whether you will be camping or require a bunk in our loft (first come, first served!)
  7. Do you need a ride?
  8. Can you offer a ride – if so, for how many people?
  9. Any other questions you have

Once Lacey has confirmed your spot, she will email you directions to the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center and provide you additional details about the trip.

Can’t join us in April? Join us the weekend of May 2-5 for a tree planting volunteer trip. Save the date and keep your eye out for more details!

Photo of the Week: Happy Birthday Henry Red Cloud!

Happy Birthday to our dear friend and partner, Henry Red Cloud! You are a true inspiration to so many people; your tireless efforts to transform the tribal energy approach sets an example for what is possible when we work together to harness the renewable energy of Mother Nature.
Happy Birthday to our dear friend and partner, Henry Red Cloud! You are a true inspiration to so many people; your tireless efforts to transform the tribal energy approach sets an example for what is possible when we work together to harness the renewable energy of Mother Nature.

Henry Red Cloud Accepts the Energy Globe World Award

The Energy Globe is the world´s most prestigious and respected environmental award. More than 150 countries participated and submitted over 6,000 projects that implemented a prudent and economical use of resources to the international jury of experts since the year 2000.

Energy Globe nominees from 14 different nations convinced the jury chaired by Maneka Ghandi (member of the Indian parliament and former environmental minister) this year. They all have dedicated their life to one single goal: Providing sustainable solutions to diverse problems all over the world. The projects were presented at the 29th international CIRIEC congress taking place in the Vienna City Hall from 12-14 September.

Congratulations to our partner Henry Red Cloud for this great honor!

Interested in supporting Henry and TWP’s work on Tribal Lands? Please visit to make a donation today!

Make your dollar go even further on GlobalGiving’s Bonus Day!

On Wednesday, March 14th, starting at 12:01 am EST, is hosting a “Bonus Day,” where every donation you make to one of Trees, Water & People’s fundraising projects will be matched by 30 percent, greatly increasing the impact of your generous donations!

Don’t miss this opportunity to support the communities we serve by helping us build clean cookstoves in Haiti and solar air heaters for Native American families. To have your donation matched, visit one of the projects below and make a contribution on March 14th! And, don’t forget to share this email with your friends!

GlobalGiving Bonus Day
GlobalGiving Bonus Day March 2012
The Details: The Bonus Day will start at 12:01 am EST on March 14th, 2012.  GlobalGiving will be matching online donations made on Bonus Day at 30% until the $50,000 in matching funds runs out. GlobalGiving will also be offering additional prizes for organizations that raise the most on Bonus Day and have the most unique donors.

For more info please visit or email Megan Maiolo-Heath, TWP’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator, at

Thanks for your support!

Volunteer Opportunity: Help Build a New Training Annex at RCREC

We have purchased the building kit for our new Training Annex at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC), and we need your help to put it together! Made possible by our very generous donors, the new Training Annex will provide us with a dedicated training facility, allowing the existing building at the RCREC to become a year-round solar air heater manufacturing facility.

Can you join us November 4-7? Save your spot soon; we only have 12 available.

What: Training Annex Construction
Where: Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, Pine Ridge, South Dakota
Arrive: Friday evening/ afternoon, November 4
Work: Saturday-Sunday, November 5-6
Depart: Monday, November 7
Why: Take this opportunity to visit the Pine Ridge Reservation and play a critical role in our expanding training program.

Keep in mind that South Dakota weather is unpredictable in November. This trip is for volunteers who enjoy a little adventure!


  • Volunteers are invited to sleep in the existing co-ed dormitories at the RCREC. There is one semi-reliable indoor plumbing facility, but you should plan on some rustic conditions.
  • Volunteers are also welcome to bring camping equipment and camp on the RCREC campus, but be prepared for potentially COLD weather!


  • You will be responsible for your own transport to/ from the RCREC.
  • For those of you traveling from Fort Collins, CO on Friday and returning on Monday, I will be happy to facilitate carpools.
  • Henry does live down a dirt road. Many sedans have traveled it.


  • TWP will provide food for the trip, and volunteers will cook as a group for each meal. The food we provide will be all be vegan (no animal products of any kind). Plan accordingly if you require any other diet.

Our volunteer capacity is limited to 12 people. Please email me as soon as possible to reserve your spot, and be sure to keep me updated if your availability changes so that other people can have the opportunity to volunteer.

To Reserve Your Spot:
Please email Lacey Gaechter ( with the following information:

  • Let me know when you plan to arrive/ depart
  • Where you’ll be coming from
  • If you’d like a ride or to offer a ride from Fort Collins
  • Will you sleep in our dormitory or bring your own camping equipment?
  • Any other questions that you have?

We hope you can make it!

TWP Makes Progress at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

This last week was an important one as our good friends from the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) came to visit us on the Pine Ridge Reservation. RREAL is working to break down financial and informational barriers to the widespread use of solar energy out in Minnesota. They feel that like the digital divide which separates communities based on access to information, there is also a renewable energy divide and that specifically lower income communities are in danger of being left behind as our society shifts towards a renewable economyrreal-solar-heater-at-childrens-village.

These are our types of folks and a natural friendship has evolved that is slowly becoming a successful partnership as we share ideas, equipment and a vision to extend solar heating systems and other renewable energy applications to those who need it most.

This week, Jason Edens Tim Ollhoff and Steve Benson arrived at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) on Pine Ridge with three of their solar heating systems. The first one they installed with Henry and Avery Red Cloud of Lakota Solar Enterprises at the Lakota Children’s Village, which serves as the home for Lakota children in need of shelter.

It was a most wonderful installation that will provide heat for pennies a day for Lakota children in great need for many years to come!

Their second solar heating system was installed as a solar demonstration and education unit at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center. The Center is being developed as a place for tribal members from across the Great Plains and beyond to be trained in facility and family sized renewable energy applications and installations.

The third unit will be installed by Lakota Solar Enterprises for another family at Pine Ridge in the weeks ahead.

We also planted windbreaks and shade trees for two families at the Fraggle Rock community in Pine Ridge. The north wind there blows hard and cold for much of the winter causing entire rooms in homes to be abandoned during winter because they are so cold. So we plant trees as family windbreaks which will immediately start to shield the homes from the bitter chill and will grow over the years into a solid wall of protec

tion. We also planted two shade trees at each house to provide shade during the extremely hot summers.

Children's Village in Pine Ridge

While we were in the neighborhood, we also installed one of LSE’s solar heating systems. Together, we will use these three homes to demonstrate natural ways to lower heating costs and we will now begin to raise funds for additional tree planting in the neighborhood in the spring of 2009.

A special thanks to TWP’s Tribal Lands Program Coordinator, Liz Sunderland, who coordinated the RREAL visit and handled many of the logistical details of getting these five installations done.

That’s the true spirit of Trees, Water & People....getting difficult things done…. and done well!