We believe that natural resource conservation is absolutely essential to the social, economic, and environmental well-being of Native American communities everywhere. Conservation and economic development can, and should, go hand-in-hand!
Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is important.
On American Indian reservations, it's an imperative.
On the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, more than 90% of residences are heated with propane, electric heat, and wood stoves. Typical heating expenses consume 50 - 70% of a household's income.
In 2002, while searching for ways to reduce these costs, Trees, Water & People discovered that solar air furnaces, due to their basic, low-cost construction, would save more money for every dollar invested than any other renewable energy technology.
From this simple furnace, our Tribal Renewable Energy Program was born.
As our program expanded, the demand for the solar air furnaces and other renewable energy grew and fostered a partnership with our dear friend and Lakota elder, Henry Red Cloud. In 2006, Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE), one of the first 100% Native American-owned and operated renewable energy businesses, was created to help manufacture and install solar air furnaces.
Soon, we were receiving requests from tribes interested in attending workshops about solar air furnaces and other renewable energy technologies. So, in 2008, we created the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC), a one-of-a-kind educational facility where tribes from all over the nation can receive training on renewable energy applications from fellow Native Americans.
Since 2008, our Tribal Renewable Energy Program has provided green job training to more than 180 tribal members in residential and facility-scale renewable energy applications. To meet the growing demand, we have continued to expand the types of trainings that we offer, as well as the accommodations that we can provide our trainees with our new lodging and training facility the Sacred Earth Lodge.