Our Current Work
Together, We Empower People With The Power To Change Their World
The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota
Anpo Wicahpi or Morning Star - the brand new Pine Ridge Girls School - represents a beacon of enlightenment amidst the darkness of ignorance. They just opened the doors to their inaugural class in August of 2016.
This Fall, we'll be installing a 22kW solar system, helping to offset both carbon, and a major expense, so those dollars can go towards more important things.
In partnership with Red Cloud Renewable, Lakota Solar, and the Sierra Club, the solar install will provide the school with years of clean energy freely provided by nature. The system will be installed by the Lakota people (oyate) of Pine Ridge and members of other First Nation communities. Red Cloud Renewables and InOurHands will work to educate and train locals on the ins and outs of renewable installation and maintenance.
Why Pine Ridge?
In the very heart of the U.S., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, live the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) - considered amongst the most marginalized and poorest communities in the western hemisphere. Currently on Pine Ridge, roughly 86% of the population is unemployed, and 97% live far below the federal poverty line.
Average life expectancy on the reservation is around 50 years, the teen suicide rate is 150% the national average, infant mortality is 300% the national average, 60% of homes are infested with black mold, 39% of homes don't have electricity, and 33% of homes lack basic water and sewer systems.
Pine Ridge residents are forced to endure winter temperatures of -50 degrees Fahrenheit. When the north wind blows, ice forms on the inside walls of houses, and it's far too common an occurrence that people die from exposure in the dark in their own homes when they cannot afford their heating and electricity bills.
The story of the Lakota Sioux and their relationship with the outside world has been littered with broken promises and unwarranted aggressions, but this story is not yet fully written. We have the chance to turn the page and help them to write a new chapter of hope. Together, we can all help bring about the re-birth of a nation.
Energy Security and Independence for Pine Ridge
Conditions on Pine Ridge are comparable only to that of the third world. Because of the harshness of their winters, and the dilapidated state of their housing stock, it's a common occurrence that the majority of a household's annual earnings get blown right out the window and into the pockets of off-the-res propane and utility providers, leaving very little to meet other basic needs.
InOurHands' goal is to help bring energy independence to Pine Ridge and other First Nation communities. Our first instinct upon entering Pine Ridge was to try to provide families with enough heat to at least keep their homes above freezing temperatures using renewable energy. Needless to say, renewables alone just aren't going to do the trick.
The problem is that the housing stock on the reservation is so dilapidated and inefficient that it would take a prohibitively large energy installation to provide enough heat for each house.
We quickly realized that the only way to provide the people of Pine Ridge with adequate heat during the winter would be to replace the housing stock.
And we're developing a plan to do just that. Watch the video to learn more.
(Water Is Life!)
For years now, Lakota water protector camps have been staged along proposed pipeline routes in North and South Dakota in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and the Keystone XL, making international headlines. They're fighting against the greed of the fossil fuel industries, while at the same time remain trapped in their grasp - even the water protector camps require power for lighting, cooking, and communication, and most all of it comes from diesel generators and gas stoves.
The first time Henry Red Cloud and his family visited the camp at Standing Rock, they almost immediately returned home to Pine Ridge, hooked up one of his solar trailers to his pickup, and returned to the camp. He did this 11 times last year, each time providing a valuable renewable resource for the community, while at the same time educating and training future Lakota leaders on the use of the new technology as they assemble each solar generator with their own hands.
With your support, InOurHands wants to support Henry's efforts to bring energy independence to the water protector camps by funding the construction of many more solar trailers.
Stay tuned as we highlight the beginnings of our next series of projects, helping to bring 21st century renewable energy jobs to laid-off coal miners in West Virginia, and disaster-ready housing coupled with disseminated, community-owned renewable energy infrastructure to Puerto Rico and Baja California, Mexico. Much, much more to come...
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