Renewable Energy Powering U.S. Tribal Homes

solar power on the lakota reservation
The Clean Energy Education Partnership will bring more renewable energy to homes like the solar panel at this Lakota family’s home.

The Rosebud Tribe of the Lakota Sioux Nation in the United States is taking steps to make renewable energy an integral part of tribal housing, according to the conservation group and project partner Trees, Water & People (TWP). The program, known as the Clean Energy Education Partnership (CEEP), has drawn on the expertise of various housing, energy, and tribal groups to measure wind energy on the Rosebud reservation, in the northern state of South Dakota, and to begin implementing renewable energy technologies at the household level.

The home of Cecil and Rosie Little Thunder, a well-respected family in the community, will be the first demonstration site for household renewable energy technologies. The pilot project will be implemented in conjunction with tribal renewable energy educational conferences to be held on the reservation on May 9–11. The Little Thunders have a long history of contributing spiritual leadership to the tribe, and it is hoped that by involving this traditional family in the first CEEP project, other tribal members will recognize that renewable energy is consistent with Lakota culture and its emphasis on harmony with nature.

The home will be outfitted with a solar heating system as well as a wind turbine and solar electric system, both of which will provide electricity for the Little Thunders and create excess electricity to sell back to the grid. CEEP will also plant trees around the house to create a windbreak and to provide shade, reducing overall energy needs.

The Rosebud tribe in South Dakota has been considered a renewable energy leader since 2003, when the community constructed the first 750-kilowatt utility-scale commercial wind turbine in the lower 48 states that is wholly owned and operated by a Native American tribe.

More Resources: Solar Power, Lakota Empowerment

This story was produced by Eye on Earth, a joint project of the Worldwatch Institute and the blue moon fund. View the complete archive of Eye on Earth stories, or contact Staff Writer Alana Herro at aherro [AT] worldwatch [DOT] org with your questions, comments, and story ideas.