Exciting news! As our Lakota People’s Law Project legal team prepares landmark necessity defenses for HolyElk Lafferty and Chase Iron Eyes in the aftermath of the DAPL protests, we’ve also begun helping to green Standing Rock. As Native people, we realize we can’t just be reactive when events come to our doorstep. We must proactively set an example by creating a healthier world.
That’s why we’re working to protect both our families and our homeland by pushing for renewable energy on the rez and in the Dakotas. My good friend and colleague, fellow Lakota grandmother and Lakota People’s Law Project organizer Phyllis Young, has taken the lead by bringing experts to Standing Rock and initiating exploration of a large scale renewable energy and efficiency project for her reservation. We’ve created a petition calling on the Dakotas to go green too.
The tragic fact is that, right now, the people of Standing Rock pay 33% MORE for their electricity than residents of Bismarck, just one hour away. To make things worse, unlike in almost every other cold weather state, no law exists in North or South Dakota to prevent utilities from shutting off power in the dead of winter. Imagine living through months without power in temperatures that reach -40ºF. Change must come, and soon.
Phyllis was the tribal liaison to the DAPL camps for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Last month, she kept the momentum going by organizing a renewable energy summit on the reservation. Representatives from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology came to assess ways they may be able to consult on sustainability projects. Phyllis is also helping to assess energy efficiency and solar potential for buildings throughout the rez. It’s already clear that by going renewable, the tribe could save tens of millions of dollars, take control of its own energy future, and greatly reduce its carbon footprint.
Our sister project, Greenpower, has also stepped up to assist. For more than a year, they’ve been helping communities throughout California implement clean energy programs. Greenpower is sharing knowledge about how renewable energy works. With their advice, we have now identified local experts in Bismarck capable of guiding the tribe through this complicated work.
Your continued advocacy can help the tribe achieve energy sovereignty, save much needed money, and protect Unci Maka from the harmful effects of fossil fuels. Please watch our video and sign our petition calling upon North and South Dakota to adopt mandatory Renewable Portfolio Standards and pass other legislation designed to make the transition to renewables faster. Standing Rock is doing its part, and you are doing yours by continuing to stand with us. With your help, we hope to convince North and South Dakota to do the same.
Wopila — I thank you,
Madonna Thunder Hawk
Lakota People’s Law Project