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Standing Rock fights on, as tribal activism goes solar

While the Green New Deal and United Nations climate reports make regular headlines, a less publicized push for renewable energy has been blazing across Native American communities. On South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation aims to “overpower intergenerational poverty” by building a sustainable community largely powered by solar. The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska has already installed 400 kilowatts of solar with plans for more, and the Forest County Potawatomi in Wisconsin have developed several arrays under a strong pro-green initiative. “Solar energy is spreading like wildfire through tribal nations right now,” says Robert Blake, a member of Minnesota’s Red Lake Band of Ojibwe Indians and founder of a solar installation company called Solar Bear. Solar energy, says Blake, can bring jobs and economic development to tribal communities, and tackle problems like poverty and addiction by giving people purpose. “It’s more than just a job, it’s saving Mother Earth and protecting the sacred, and that is engrained in our DNA as Native peoples,” he says.