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The Green Life: Renewable Energy: A Cure for Poverty on Native American Lands?

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September 18, 2009

Renewable Energy: A Cure for Poverty on Native American Lands?

Wind turbines Renewable energy can help tackle climate change, but the Hocak Elders Council of the Winnebago Tribe in Nebraska also see its potential to ease another problem: the poverty and unemployment that many Native American communities suffer.

The council will present a plan to help Native Americans harness wind power at the "Building a Healthy, Sustainable American Indian Community" conference at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa (Sept. 25-27). A live webcast begins September 25.

In a policy paper, the Indigenous Environmental Network and other advocacy groups argue that tribal lands are ripe for renewable-energy projects because they have the potential to generate about 535 billion kilowatt-hours per year of wind power and 17,000 billion kWh/year of solar power.

Several tribes have received funding for energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects from the U.S. Department of Energy. Meanwhile, the Sierra Club has partnered with the Navajo Nation to create the Navajo Green Economy Commission and Green Economy Fund, programs that aim to provide local jobs for young people in green endeavors.   

-- Année Tousseau

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