The US Department of Energy has approved $6.6 million in funding to create an electric vehicle charging network for Native American Tribes in the Midwest.
Awarded to Native Sun Community Power Development and Standing Rock Renewable Energy Power Authority, the funding will be used to purchase EVs, install more than 120 charging stations, and pay for educational seminars to encourage Native American communities to embrace the rise of renewable energy. The network is expected to reach 23 Indigenous nations in Minnesota and the Dakotas.
Native Sun Community Power Development is an Indigenous-owned nonprofit and the Standing Rock Renewable Energy Power Authority is a public power company created by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The Tribes in the Midwest region who will benefit from the EV network hope that the network will accelerate a transition away from fossil fuels. Tribes in the region including Red Lake and Standing Rock have been instrumental in opposing both the Dakota Access Pipeline and Line 3.
In addition to an EV network, members of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe Indians have also proposed a 12-megawatt solar farm to power the entire network. Project organizers hope that placing the charging stations at tourist destinations and casinos will also provide another source of income for Tribes.
Robert Blake, a member of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe Indians and the executive director of Native Sun Community Power Development told Grist, “Whether we’re building the electric vehicle charging network, solar farms, energy efficient projects, whatever it is, native people are going to try to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels because we know that that’s what’s killing our mother. We know that’s killing the planet.”