To say the Alaska Native village of Shishmaref is remote would be an understatement. The traditional Inupiat village sits on a barrier island about 20 miles below the Arctic Circle and the only way in or out is by boat or plane, which involves an hour-long flight from Nome. There’s only one paved road on the island; the rest of the streets are sand and most people get around on ATVs and dirt bikes, or in the winter, snowmobiles.
Retha Herne is Executive Director of the Akwesasne Housing Authority (AHA) in Hogansburg, New York. With the highest energy costs in the state of New York, the tribe is looking to alternative energy sources to help sustain the community for the long term.
Under the Navajo-Hopi Land Settlement Act of 1974 for the Paragon-Bisti Ranch was set aside for the benefit of Navajo families (relocatees) living on Hopi Partitioned Lands. Now, more than 40 years later, the Navajo Nation is pursuing plans to use those resource-rich lands to cultivate clean, renewable energy.
In May 2015 I began serving as Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy. Since then, I’ve crisscrossed the country visiting American Indian and Alaska Native communities that face a variety of pressing energy challenges.
More than 450 representatives from tribal and state governments, federal agencies, tribal corporations, private industry, utilities, and academia came together to explore tribal energy development and security issues at the National Tribal Energy Summit: A Path to Economic Sovereignty, held Sept. 23–25, 2015, in Washington, D.C.
Over the past year, DOE Office of Indian Energy staff have traveled throughout the contiguous United States and Alaska to help build capacity, deliver energy project technical assistance, and provide information sharing opportunities to tribal communities.
Seeking to reduce its reliance on imported diesel fuel and to lower operating costs, increase quality of life, and serve as a model of self-sufficiency for local youth and surrounding communities, Gwitchyaa Zhee Gwich’in Tribe applied for and was awarded a $125,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Tribal Energy Program to supplement the tribe’s investment in a quarter-million-dollar energy efficiency and renewable energy project.