Skip to main content

Leading a 'green revolution'

On today's show we have SAGE Development Authority’s Joseph McNeil Jr. and Native Sun’s Robert Blake to talk about renewable energy on tribal lands
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

Within the Department of Energy, there is an office of Indian energy that deals exclusively with tribes. 

According to the department, there are two types of renewable energy sources that have been successful for tribes in the west and Midwest: wind and solar. Today's guests know a lot about both.

On today's show we have SAGE Development Authority’s Joseph Mcneil Jr. and Native Sun’s Robert Blake to talk about renewable energy on tribal lands.

Some quotes from the show:

Robert Blake:

"We also see the opportunity to create jobs. We feel like this could be kind of this power source that can really be the driver of economic development and entrepreneurial opportunities for the community. You know, we all know that Native communities don't necessarily agree with this colonial capitalism system, and with us being able to create our own economy within our own borders we feel like we're going to be able to better participate with the outside system. So, this goes much deeper than a renewable energy project. We really do feel like this is hitting a human health crisis too. So that's why we're really excited about this. And I really want to pursue this as we go further."

Scroll to Continue

Read More

"I really do believe that Native nations can lead the way here. We've got 573 tribal nations here on Turtle Island. And we know that the United States has backed out of the Paris climate treaty agreement. And so my whole thought is, you know, we can't take back this land physically. We can't go to war with the United States again, but we could take back this land morally. And the time is right now and that's to renewable energy and that’s leading a green revolution. And that's why I believe that tribal nations share a very important role in climate change. And just protecting the environment. This is part of our cultural teachings. This is part of who we are as people. This is our right. And it was our right before people got here on Turtle Island. It's going to be all right after everybody leaves. So that's why this is so important. And I love what all tribal nations are doing as far as renewable energy is concerned. But I really do believe that this is our opportunity and our time."

Joseph McNeil Jr.: 

"When Sage was developed, the name was its Strategic Achievable Goals for protection of the Environment. But SAGE itself, we use it for cleansing. We use it for ceremonies to clear the air, to cleanse from bad spirits or negativity, and we use it as medicine. So for us, this project is good medicine. This project I'd like to say is a prayer for us. So this beginning prayer to establish a way, to establish renewable energy projects for our people here at Standing Rock. And to share that with all of our tribes and beyond, so that if this model works good for us, then we don't have to recreate the wheel at another tribe. We'll give you the model so that you can do it yourself, you know because everyone's going to do it their own way. Like everyone prays to the same creator, but praise in their own way. So that level of respect, we know that we're going to have in relating to other tribes in this prayer, in this effort, but no prayer is answered without the work. So we know that the work must be done, and that's where we really drill down at and making sure we're doing the initial steps as best we can correctly. "

"Yeah, we're crowdfunding so that our tribe own more of our project. So if there are people out there that want to continue to help what we've done to fight the pipeline, this is the next step. You know, we fought the pipeline, we're still fighting the pipeline, we're protecting our water, but now we're working to protect our energy sources and produce that. So, you know, we're looking for support out there. And this is a model that other nations can do is crowdfund for their own ownership in their projects. And that is the biggest hindrance, I think right now for pro for tribes who aren't major gaming revenue tribes that don't have that kind of a resource, but, you know we're turning at every corner that we can to not just be innovative but to captivate our market and be that producer like Bob was saying large scale, energy production to sell. And we help our communities in that way."

ICT Phone Logo

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. She is also the anchor of the weekday newscast. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.

Indian Country Today is a nonprofit news organization. Will you support our work? All of our content is free. There are no subscriptions or costs. And we have hired more Native journalists in the past year than any news organization ─ and with your help we will continue to grow and create career paths for our people. Support Indian Country Today for as little as $10.