Henry Red Cloud standing near solar panels
Lakota Solar Enterprises founder Henry Red Cloud (Photo: Courtesy of Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center)

For the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe, the sun is more than a source of energy.

Red Cloud: “Native people’s way of life – language, song, dance, ceremonies – are all focused around the sun. So we’re looking to that energy to help us to create a more sustainable lifestyle.”

Henry Red Cloud is the founder of Lakota Solar Enterprises. The company manufactures and installs solar-powered furnaces for Native American families on reservations across the Great Plains.

When tribes outside the region expressed an interest in learning about his solar furnaces, Red Cloud partnered with a non-profit called Trees, Water & People to create the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center.

It opened a decade ago and taught people about the furnaces produced by Red Cloud’s company. But it has since expanded to include workshops on a wide range of renewable energy and energy efficiency topics.

Each workshop is designed to provide tribal members with knowledge and skills to help their communities move toward energy independence.

Red Cloud: “Every step that we take, every decision, every idea that we take is for the generations to come.”

Reporting credit: Christina Hoover Moorehead/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Bruce Lieberman, a long-time journalist, has covered climate change science, policy, and politics for nearly two decades. A newspaper reporter for 20 years, Bruce worked for The San Diego Union-Tribune...