Renewable energy projects on tribal lands are fast becoming a reality. Tribal communities in the Southwestern United States reside on lands that are known to be rich with potential for the development of solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal facilities on a large commercial scale.
Studies have found that tribal lands nationwide have the potential for producing up to 10 percent of the United States' renewable energy. This development could mean lower rates for electricity, new directions for the nation's energy industry and a new economic reality for some Native American tribes and their neighboring communities. To that end, tribal nations have begun to own and develop renewable energy projects on tribal lands.
This is no small feat. For decades, tribal communities in this region have suffered high unemployment, poor social conditions and widespread poverty. As the demand in the West for renewable energy grows, tribes have now recognized that they can diversify their resources and sell renewable energy and leverage their assets to spur economic development. This could create an emerging, domestic market that would serve as a vehicle for economic development and a source of long-term revenue for tribal communities.
Critics often dismiss the viability of renewable projects on tribal lands, stating that projects are subject to delays, regulatory hurdles, and lack of expertise by the tribes to develop renewable projects. These are myths that reflect a misunderstanding of tribal communities and ignore the efforts underway to clear the hurdles to renewable energy development. In reality, tribes are working with Congress to clear federal regulatory hurdles to development on their lands, and successfully partnering with renewable energy developers or developing projects on their own lands.
The Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy has been working with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to help it obtain 25% of its energy from renewable energy and promote energy security by educating tribal leaders and military leaders on partnership opportunities as well as providing technical assistance to Tribes working with local military installations.
WampWorx is a native owned construction management firm that specializes in delivering tailored solutions that build a stronger foundation for our clients all across Indian Country. Our holistic approach to each project, combined with wide range of building and management resources allow us to deliver solutions that work. We're committed to the ideal of mainstreaming sustainability by serving communities, companies and investors with a sincere interest in clean, profitable energy production. We believe that building for tomorrow is not only smart and sustainable strategy, but also a wise investment in the future.
Mark Harding, August 2000
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe
Former Vice President, Treasurer and Tribal Councilor
Chairman, Citizens Advisory Council,
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Seat Advisors to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Environmental Management Commission
Senior Management Board,
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Seat
Joint Base Cape Cod
Cape Cod Commissioner
Former Native American Seat