Standing Rock, MIT to Host Second Energy and Food Security Summit

Other Groups Plan Renewables Rally at State Capitol


August 7, 2018

In the wake of its well-publicized battle against the Dakota Access pipeline, Standing Rock continues to look at ways it can find alternatives to fossil fuel consumption.

After co-hosting the first Solve at Standing Rock summit in January, MIT Solve will be back this Aug. 12 and 13 for a second go-around. At the same time, the Lakota People’s Law Project and the Dem-NPL Renewable Energy Caucus will host a renewable energy rally at the state capital building in Bismarck on Sunday, Aug. 12.

The summit, which Solve’s website describes as “a two-day gathering to celebrate and uplift the innovative sustainability work currently being done in Indian Country,” will take place at the Prairie Knights Casino. It will highlight the work that six Oceti Sakowin Solve Fellows are accomplishing to promote sustainability, food security, sovereignty and economic prosperity within Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota communities.

“I’m excited to talk about the work we’ve done to assess the energy efficiency and solar power potential of our casinos, our tribal headquarters, and other buildings in our community,” said former Standing Rock tribal council member and Lakota People’s Law Project organizer Phyllis Young, one of the six MIT Solve Fellows.

The conference will feature educational and networking opportunities for tribal members and guests with representatives from MIT Solve, foundations, NGOs, corporations, government officials and academics. All will converge in North Dakota to focus on the possibilities for a continued, indigenous-led environmental movement and the enormous renewable potential of their lands, according to Solve representatives.

Planned concurrently, the renewable energy rally will run from 1:30 PM to 6:15 PM on Aug. 12. It will feature food, displays of electric vehicles and more. Local artist Helms Deep will perform at 4:30 p.m. Speakers will take the stage at 5:30 p.m., including Young, former Democratic congressional candidate and Lakota People’s Law Project attorney Chase Iron Eyes, North Dakota Public Services Commission candidates Jean Brandt and Casey Buchmann and Dem-NPL Renewable Caucus Chair Brad Magnuson.

“We invite one and all to come, participate and enjoy the opportunities,” Young said. “Our team will be there, and we will keep pursuing sustainability for Standing Rock. North Dakota still gets 70 percent of its power from coal in spite of our great potential for wind and solar. And it’s not acceptable that our power costs on Standing Rock are 33 percent higher than in Bismarck. Also, there should be a law preventing our local utility from shutting off power due to nonpayment during winter months, as there is in most other cold weather states. Our tribal members frequently lose access to electricity in the dead of winter.

“Our summit will also address food security,” Young continued. “As we move toward getting off the fossil fuel grid, and getting on a hydropower grid derived from the water, we also want to utilize the land to expand our ag culture to include planting and growing whole foods. We must take back our ancestral ways and traditional value systems. It’s time for big changes, and we are working hard to make them happen.”

The Lakota People’s Law Project operates under the 501(c)(3) Romero Institute, a nonprofit law and policy center.


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