South Dakota Six Sioux Tribes Announce Wind Power Initiative

Former President Bill Clinton (c) with Tribal Leaders
Former President Bill Clinton (c) with Tribal Leaders

Levi Rickert, Native News Network

CHICAGO – Six tribal leaders of the South Dakota were on hand at the Clinton Global Initiative to announce with former President Bill Clinton a new power initiative that will harness South Dakota’s greatest natural resource: Wind.

Representing their respective tribes were: Vice Chairman Wayne Ducheneaux, Cheyenne River Sioux, Vice Chairman Eric Big Eagle, Crow Creek Sioux, President Bryan Brewer, Oglala Sioux Tribe, President Cyril Scott, Rosebud Sioux, Chairman Robert Shepherd, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, and Chairman Thurman Cournoyer, Yankton Sioux.

The initiative is receiving critical legal and public policy counsel from Arent Fox LLP. The Arent Fox team representing the Sioux Tribes includes former Senator Byron Dorgan, co-chair of the Government Relations practice, and Communications, Technology & Mobile partner Jonathan E. Canis and associate G. David Carter.

“Having served as Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, I understand the strong desire of the Indian Tribes to build “Indian owned” wind power projects to create new jobs and affordable power for their Tribes,”

said Senator Dorgan.

“This project is a unique opportunity for the Sioux Tribes in South Dakota to chart their own destiny. They live on lands that are rich with wind resources and they can use those resources to build a large wind energy project that can both help the Tribes and produce clean, renewable power for our country for decades to come. Together with my colleagues at Arent Fox, I have been honored to work with elected leaders of the Tribes to plan this project and I am especially proud of the recognition given it today by President Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative.”

The Tribes’ initiative comes at a time when renewable energy investment is increasingly a national priority. Through the project, the Tribes stand to infuse up to $3 billion directly into the South Dakota economy, an amount roughly equal to the impact of the entire manufacturing sector in South Dakota in a given year. The planned project could generate 1-2 gigawatts of power annually. Measured conservatively, that’s more than enough power to electrify the homes in Denver, Colorado for the next 20 years, the typical useful lifespan of the wind turbines.

The majority of the project’s funding will come through the sale of bonds by a Multi-Tribal Power Authority, which are expected to be made available to investors in about two years, following a critical planning and preparation stage. For this reason, the Tribes have partnered with the crowd funding platform to seek funding and raise general awareness for the project. Individuals may visit to join in and follow developments.

Already several years in the making, the project has received significant pro bono support from Arent Fox, along with Herron Consulting LLC, the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, the LIATI Group, the Bush Foundation, and the Northwest Area Foundation. Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a nonprofit philanthropic services firm, is providing strategic counsel and incubating the project until the new power authority is created.

“When the idea of the wind project was brought to the Bush Foundation we saw an alignment with our goal to support tribal self determination and native nation building. A multi-tribe authority requires tribes to transition from passive beneficiaries to a position of authority and accountability and to develop the institutions, regulations and polices necessary for success,”

commented Nez Perce Jaime Pinkham, vice president of Native Nations at the Bush Foundation to Native News Network on Sunday afternoon.

“The Foundation also provided support for the tribes to attend the Clinton Global Initiative event in Chicago. We felt CGI presented a unique and timely opportunity to bring this project to the attention of additional prospective partners. The Foundation supported two summits for the tribal leaders and their partners to develop a collective understanding of the strategies and capabilities needed to develop and sustain a power utility. Financial, legal, and technical experts participated in the summits,”

Pinkham continued.

The Clinton Global Initiative is an annual event that brings together leaders from the business, foundation, and government sectors in an effort to promote economic growth in the United States.

Bob Whitener: Sustainability Offers Tribes a Meaningful Way to Diversify Their Holdings

Bob Whitener, Indian Country Today Media Network

Sustainability truly matters to the tribes. The rivers and the fish kept them alive. Their natural resources provided them with jobs. They still want—and need—to provide jobs. And sustainability can help do that.

That’s one of the main reasons why investing in sustainable companies, partnerships and projects that have a chance to change the future makes a lot of sense for the tribes today.

The tribes have always prioritized the health of their environment, and I strongly believe that the economic and social conditions are ripe for them to contribute meaningfully to environmental improvement right now.

I used to be a tribal fisherman who dug clams, but now I’m a consultant who advises the tribes when it comes to natural resources, economic development and environmental protection.

As part of my upbringing, and part of my current job, I know how important it is for the tribes to diversify their holdings beyond gaming. But I also know that this diversification absolutely must preserve the tribes’ ethical and social values. This is simply non-negotiable.

Indeed, many green technologies need investment, and those tribes whose economic resources permit can play an important role by providing financial support that allows profit-oriented enterprises in this area to thrive.

Looking forward, the alignment of environmental values and economic opportunity creates a synergistic benefit for future tribe generations. Greater wealth helps all tribe members, and a better environment leads to increased health for the tribes, too.

There’s also long-lasting tribe pride in having enhanced both the economy and the environment.

I’ve seen several good examples that illustrate how the tribes are achieving both these goals through smart sustainability investing and commitments.

Washington State-based MicroGREEN, for example, is transforming recycled water bottles into recyclable products for retail, food-service and packaging needs. The company is the closest thing to full-cycle recycling I’ve seen. And it’s a rare kind of business, because it can make money and still be good for the environment. Some day in the future, I believe that MicroGREEN’s cups will be ubiquitous, and the tribes that have invested in it will be very proud.

In the wind-power market, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are installing wind turbines on their land in order to offset fossil fuels and power all operations with wind energy. This move is expected to save more than $9 million for the tribes over the next four decades. In the past, the tribes have spent more than $200,000 a month for electricity, including generators that help power its casinos.

One of the nation’s first 100 percent Native American-owned-and-operated renewable energy companies can be found on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Founded in 2006, Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE) manufactures solar air collectors and complete supplemental solar heating systems. It also provides employment and green-jobs training for Native Americans.

Meanwhile, the Confederate Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) in Montana are developing a pioneering project aimed at creating a viable biofuel industry using waste wood that blankets the region’s vast forestlands. The CSKT have agreed to partner with a team of researchers from the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA) on an expansive $40 million research project. NARA is a broad collective of scientists and engineers from public universities and private industry that is studying the feasibility of creating jet fuel using wood debris and residuals.

Working with companies that prioritize environmental sustainability, such as MicroGREEN, will help the tribes diversify their economies and help green, in a cost effective way, their gaming operations if they have them.”

Bob Whitener is a member of the Squaxin Island Tribe and co-owner and managing partner of The Whitener Group with his brother Ron. The Whitener Group is a consulting firm dedicated to the sustainability and advancement of tribes. The company advises Indian Tribes, as well as businesses and organizations that want to work with tribes to advance tribal objectives. Prior to The Whitener Group’s establishment in 2009, Bob Whitener served as the CEO/Board President for Island Enterprises Inc., the tribe’s economic development corporation, for more than 8 years. And before he created the Island Enterprises Inc., Bob served for over 6 years as the executive director of the Squaxin Island Tribe.



Tribal wind project in Pendleton receives $257,372 from Blue Sky customers‏

By Albany Tribune — (March 18, 2013)

A 50-kilowatt wind power project atop the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation is now closer to reality thanks in part to $257,372 in funding from Pacific Power’s Blue Sky renewable energy program.

This is the seventh year Blue Sky customers have funded these awards, which since 2006 has put more than $4 million to work at more than 50 facilities that produce power and increase awareness of the viability of renewable energy.

“The Umatilla project is another example of our customers’ deep commitment to building a renewable energy future,” said Pat Reiten, president and CEO of Pacific Power. “Not only will the Tamástslikt project supply renewable energy, but it will help teach a new generation about renewable energy. We’re proud to be part of this important effort along with our Blue Sky customers.”

The Tamástslikt Cultural Institute is the museum and cultural center of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and brings the tribe’s story alive to thousands of visitors each year. The 50-kilowatt wind turbine planned at the center will be visible from a variety of locations and will also serve as an educational tool for both local and tribal students. A kiosk and monitoring display showing real-time energy usage will be installed inside the cultural center and this information will be available on the institute’s website.

“The Blue Sky Block program, which funds these projects, has one of the highest participation rates you’ll find nationwide,” said Pat Egan, vice president of customer and community affairs, Pacific Power. “One of the reasons the Blue Sky Block option is so popular is that customers can see what they are getting. In addition to supporting the renewable energy industry, they are helping fund on-the-ground, working renewable projects in their own communities.”

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