Tribal Renewable Energy

Energyscape

Trees, Water & People began planting trees on Tribal Lands in 2003 with windbreak and shade trees in the community of Allen on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Since then, we have planted hundreds of trees on Pine Ridge in the Wanblee, Crossroads, Batesland, Wakpamni Lakes, Fraggle Rock, and Oglala communities. This program, known as "Energyscape", also includes a number of renewable energy workshops at Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Reservation to help educate residents about the benefits of tree planting and renewable energy.

A home on the Pine Ridge Reservation demonstrates an Energyscape tree planting of shade and windbreak trees.

A home on the Pine Ridge Reservation demonstrates an Energyscape tree
planting of shade and windbreak trees.

Trees planted through this program are purchased from Lakota elder and nurseryman Bernard Cuny. Buying the trees locally helps keep costs down and supports the reservation economy. Additionally, all our trees are native to the western High Plains and are well-adapted to the local conditions.

For windbreaks, we use Eastern Red Cedar and Rocky Mountain Juniper. Fast-growing, their branches form a living wall to block cold winter wind, snow, and dust. Windbreak trees can reduce wind velocity up to 90% and lower winter heating costs as well.

Several generations of the Braveheart family stand next to their new shade tree.

Several generations of the Braveheart family stand next
to their new shade tree.

For shade trees, we use Green Ash and Cottonwood. They are planted on the south sides of homes to provide shade in the summer. Since these trees lose their leaves each year, they don't block the warm winter sun. Cottonwoods are also sacred trees to the Lakota, playing an important role in their annual Sun Dance ceremonies.

Through a grant from the United States Forest Service National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council, Trees, Water & People produced Honoring Mother Earth: Planting Windbreak and Shade Trees on Native American Reservations, a comprehensive educational handbook to help train tribal members about the fundamentals of community forestry. Specifically, the book explains how to plan and implement windbreak and shade tree planting projects to reduce the impact of harsh environmental conditions and high utility costs.


report

Read Honoring Mother Earth:
Planting Windbreak and Shade Trees on Native American Reservations here >>

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Ann and Phanet Red Owl help plant trees on Pine Ridge. Planting trees at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center. Young Pine Ridge children help water newly planted trees. View more photos