Nez Perce Chairman offers opening prayer at the Indian Energy Tribal Summit. | Courtesy of the Department of Energy
Forging a new era of Department of Energy and tribal relations, more than 350 people, including representatives from 54 tribes across the continental United States, attended the May 4 and 5 Department of Energy Tribal Summit.
The summit provided a historic opportunity for the Department and tribal leaders to discuss a broad range of critical energy and environmental issues in Indian Country. Secretary Chu said, "By working together, we can promote economic development and help many more tribes and villages seize the clean energy opportunity."
Secretary Chu provided the opening keynote and took questions and answers from tribal leaders. White House Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy & Climate Change Heather Zichal and White House Special Advisor on Native American Affairs Kimberly Teehee provided policy remarks. Throughout the summit, agency leaders who are active in Indian energy also stopped in to share remarks, including Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Enviroment Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Secretary Chu also announced two new energy initiatives at the summit. He declared the intent to form an Indian clean energy and infrastructure working group -- which will provide a forum to survey, analyze and provide viewpoints on real-time obstacles that tribes face in deploying clean energy as well as potential solutions. He also announced the Department is planning to develop guidance that will direct the Department of Energy to, when possible, buy renewable energy from tribal lands. The Office of Indian Energy Policy and Program will have more details on both these initiatives in the coming weeks.
For those who weren't able to attend this year's summit, you can flip through the photos and watch video of the event below.
Our goal for this summit was to bring tribal leaders and Department of Energy leaders together to continue a discussion on the various issues confronting Indian Country on energy development. We believe we have succeeded in starting a department-wide relationship with tribes so we can work together to promote Indian Country’s energy development, infrastructure and education goals.
We were honored to host the summit and hope tribal leaders got as much out of it as we did.