Wind Is Energy ‘Gift’ For Native Americans

John Davis

“The buffalo were a gift,” [Tribal official Ken Haukaas] continued. “The wind is a gift.”

Native Americans on the Great Plains are harvesting a new gift these days… wind power. This story in the New York Times says tribes such as the Rosebud Sioux on the border of Nebraska and South Dakota are builidng wind turbine farms, which could give an economic boost to the tribes’ 29,000 members:

“We’re broke here,” Mr. Haukaas said. “We’re poor.” But, he added: “The wind is free. There’s energy here all the time.”

Mr. Haukaas believes that “the same thing that brought the buffalo brings the wind.”

“The buffalo were a gift,” he continued. “The wind is a gift.”

In 2003, after erecting a 750-kilowatt turbine that powers the Rosebud Casino near the Nebraska border, the Rosebud Sioux tribal council set its sights on building the Owl Feather War Bonnet wind farm, a 30-megawatt project that could power about 12,000 homes, each about 1,200 square feet.

After five years of negotiations with a non-Indian developer, Distributed Generation Systems Inc. of Colorado, the tribal council president, Rodney M. Bordeaux, said Thursday that he expected to sign a construction deal that would bring in some $5 million to the tribe over 20 years.

The article goes on to say that federal officials believe that wind energy could revitalize sagging Native American economies, but they admit that wind energy deals on Indian lands are few and far between… in fact, there’s just one… a 50-megawatt project on the Campo reservation near San Diego. But this latest deal could be a sign a new wind is blowing.