Jason Mackie on YouTube: Rebuilding the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center

Red Cloud to receive honorary degree

PINE RIDGE -- Oglala Lakota tribal member Henry Red Cloud will receive an honorary doctorate degree from Washington College for his career in the pursuit of affordable and accessible renewable energy solutions, his non-profit Communications Director Richard Fox revealed November. 25.

“Henry is being recognized for his work in advancing renewable energy and empowering Native American communities,” Fox said. “His work demonstrates that courage and knowledge can make a difference in the face of the global challenge of climate change and inspires hope that we can preserve and protect the natural world.”

In keeping with that history, the college has announced that on February 21, it will bestow the honorary degree, Doctor of Public Service, on the executive director of the non-profit Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center and the owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises, one of the only 100-percent native-owned renewable energy companies in the world.

The award winner founded the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center in 2008, creating a one-of-a-kind educational facility where tribal members receive solar and other green job training.

Henry Red Cloud, Descendent of Lakota treaty negotiator teaches techniques at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Photo by Talli Nauman / Native Sun News Today

Here on the banks of White Clay Creek, he promotes renewable energy as a modern way to honor the old way and a return to traditional relationships with Mother Earth. He recalls a prophecy of his great-great grandfather Makhpiya Luta, Chief Red Cloud, who negotiated the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty.

Praying with other tribal leaders at that time, he shared a vision for the restoration of harmony and lasting peace on the war-torn Great Plains -- within the passage of seven generations. Five generations later, Henry is looking at his own grandchildren as “the sacred seventh.”

“I believe that with this renewable technology, we’re getting back to that,” he says. “It’s going to bring us together. We’ll all be setting a precedent for the next seven generations,” he predicted in a recently recorded message.

Red Cloud opened the Sacred Earth Lodge in 2013, providing a 23-bed dormitory and residential training facility to accommodate a growing demand for renewable energy instruction that he helped stoke.

Fox describes him as “devoted to bringing social justice and economic development to Indian country,” noting that he is “committed to helping tribes on their path to energy sovereignty.”

He has a “philosophy of helping one family at a time,” Fox said, which “not only improves lives, but it protects our planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and decreasing reliance on fossil fuels.”

Red Cloud has earned a string of recognition awards for his contributions to fortifying the renewable energy market and promoting community resilience. In early 2019, he garnered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Oceti Sakowin SOLVE Fellowship, aimed at “bringing independent energy to tribal camps and communities.”


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Contact Talli Nauman at talli.nauman@gmail.com

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