SEI’s Native American program helps Native Americans meet their energy and housing needs with renewable energy and natural building. SEI works with Native American groups and nonprofit organizations, training people from the Western Shoshone, Skull Valley Goshute, Lakota Sioux, Yurok, Zuni, Hopi, and Chippewa Nations in renewable energy technologies.



This past year SEI experienced significant increase in the interest for this program.  As a result, we completed several successful projects and were able to reach new communities with renewable energy education.  Through a variety of supporting services, SEI’s Native American program participated in five main projects including design consulting, training and installation.  In addition to project work, SEI also strengthened relationships with several program partners through collaborative efforts while continuing to expand the program reach by developing new partnerships and program resources.

In summary, the accomplishments of this program over the past year represent the continued determination of dedicated staff, contractors and volunteers to serve a tremendous need for renewable energy education and implementation for indigenous communities around the country.  The success of these projects has already led to additional opportunities as we move into 2014.  Continued growth and momentum for the program next year looks encouraging with the development of new program materials, curriculum, demonstrations and several promising project opportunities.

Here are the highlights from this past year…………..

Grid-tie PV Training in Pine Ridge, SD

SEI completed a 4-day training and installation class in collaboration with Lakota Solar Enterprise and Trees, Water & People.  This 4-day training was hosted at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center in Pine Ridge, SD (March 25-28).  Northern Cheyenne nation sent folks from their community to this training as part a larger effort to explore sustainable economic solutions to replace fossil fuel development on their lands.  In addition to this aspect, the World Wildlife Federation, who has been integral in supporting the Northern Cheyenne in their efforts to stop the Otter Creek coal mine, was able to get this effort included in a feature film being made by Avi Lewis regarding global climate change effects on indigenous people around the world and the potential solutions being explored.  SEI conducted a two day grid-tie class accompanied by two days installing a 1.4kW ground mounted system.  Students were able to work on all aspects of the installation and were excited to see the system they had built on operating on Thursday afternoon.  This project was funded through a Putnam Foundation grant. SEI also had several volunteers onsite.   See SEI blog for more information regarding this project.

Film crews for solar pv training
Portable PV Power Trailer at Oglala Lakota Collge

Portable PV Power Trailer at Oglala Lakota College

Solar Energy International teamed up with the Oglala Lakota College’s construction program for three days of training and installation of a mobile, off grid solar system.  Seventeen students and three of the college’s instructors participated in the course.  At the end of the training the students had installed a fully functional solar powered mobile power system on their construction trailer.  The system will be used to provide power at community events, take solar education to the tribal schools, and provide power for the construction class during their work building houses on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  This project was funded through the DOE SITN program which works to support regional community colleges and vo-tech schools to start PV training programs.  See this link for more information on this project.

Solar Water Pumping at the Solar Warrior Farm

SEI partnered with Trees, Water & People and Lakota Solar Enterprise to host a week long workshop covering solar water pumping applications as well as the fundamentals of drip irrigation.  Expanding our partnership with these organizations, SEI spearheaded the design and installation of a solar water pumping system at the Henry Red Cloud Renewable Energy Training Center.  This water pumping system will be utilized by the “Solar Warrior Farm