Ironically, it is because reservations were created on unproductive, hard-to-farm land that so many tribal nations can now turn to solar and wind farms to produce their own power. "Now there's no cheaper form of doing energy anywhere in the country than on native land," says Cody Two Bears, whose Indigenized Energy is installing solar farms for tribal nations. In Standing Rock, Cannon Ball's 1,100-panel solar farm saves the tribe up to $10,000 annually. And the lack of jobs on reservations has encouraged interest in training. Since 2002, Red Cloud Renewable has trained more than 1,100 indigenous people as solar installers. Tribal members get free training, housing, food and mock roofs to practice on, and then install solar panels free in community homes. Being sovereign nations – with the authority to self-govern – has meant tribes can roll out renewables faster than municipalities. Two Bears dreams of creating enough energy to be able to sell some back to the national grid. "We can lead the way in this energy transition. This is a chance to rewrite history."

Read Full Story