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The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation - South Dakota

KILI Radio, "The Voice of the Lakota Nation" - an independent radio station funded entirely by donations from global listeners - just gained energy independence! InOurHands partnered proudly with Red Cloud Renewable, Lakota Solar, Thunder Valley CDC, Sunset Power Solutions, Remote Energy, Johnny Weiss Solar, and a number of dedicated volunteers, to complete this 20 Kw ground-mount solar array. Just one step closer to energy sovereignty in Pine Ridge.

About 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 Oglala Lakota 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.


Henry Red Cloud, 5th generation direct decedent of Chief Red Cloud, is on a mission to help fulfill his ancestor's prophecy - to take the goodness of the Lakota and the goodness of the western world and create something beautiful and new that never existed before. He believes renewable energy is "a new way to honor the old ways", and will light their path to get them there. With grandchildren of his own, he walks with the sacred seven - the generation that will restore balance and the Lakota way of life.

Upcoming Projects

Energy Security and Independence for Pine Ridge

To say that conditions are difficult on Pine Ridge would be a severe understatement. Because of the harshness of their winters, and the poor 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.

“It can be hard to make positive change happen in the world. On the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, it is almost impossible. But we are doing it because of the help and caring of friends like Aaron and Jason with InOurHands. For more than two decades, I have struggled to educate Native American youth – both women and men and show them a new way to honor the old way.

The Lakota are sun dancers and we have a song and a ceremony for every element and aspect of nature. So, it’s easy to help our young people to identify with renewable energy and sustainable building and living.

With InOurHands’ assistance, we have the ability to broaden our knowledge base and move forward to bring energy independence, renewable energy and new housing options to our tribes and communities.”Henry Red Cloud

What's Next?

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, Baja California, Mexico and Senegal. Much, much more to come...

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