Tribal Solar Projects Provide More Than Climate Solutions


credit: Wikipedia

"We are disrupting the broken fossil fuel-based energy system," says Cheri Smith, a co-founder of Covenant Solar, a nonprofit that has installed solar panels on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana and the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

"This is economic development with really high human impact."

The Billings Gazette reports more than 175,000 acres of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in central Montana were burned by two wildfires in August, forcing the evacuation of Lame Deer, the largest town on the reservation.

Smith and her husband, Cody Two Bears, helped organize a fundraiser to get 300 kilowatts of solar power installed on the reservation.

"The majority of solar being done on reservations don't address core issues of poverty and lack of self-determination," Smith tells the Gazette.

But solar isn't just for tribes.

Robert Blake, founder of replacement fossil fuel replacement company Solar Power Development, is working with the Red Lake Reservation in Minnesota, where he's also a member, to develop solar energy on reservations.

"We are disrupting the broken fossil fuel-based energy system," Smith says.

"This is economic development with really high human impact."

But solar isn't just for tribes.

In places like Montana, climate change-driven warmer temperatures, drier...

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