Utne Blogs > Environment

‘The Winds Are Holy’

 by Keith Goetzman


Tags: Environment, renewable energy, wind power, native, American Indian, reservations,

KILI wind turbineWind turbines are sprouting up on American Indian reservations across the country, Megan Gray reports in Cultural Survival Quarterly. On the Great Plains, where the wind blows mightily, a project called Intertribal COUP is promoting wind power on 20 reservations by helping tribes navigate the complex issues in renewable energy markets.

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Gray reports, plans to install a 30-megawatt wind plant on its South Dakota land, where winds are rated class 5 and 6, the windiest end of the 1-to-6 scale used to measure wind potential. And over on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the nation’s largest Indian radio station, KILI-FM, on July 31 threw the switch on a new wind turbine that “cuts carbon emissions, saves one of country’s poorest reservations $12,000 per year, and points to the future of alternative energy in Indian Country,” according to a recent announcement.

Wind power is not only a step toward economic and energy self sufficiency for reservations, according to Pat Spears, vice president of Intertribal COUP; it also taps an ancient and mystical power source: “For many tribal peoples, the winds are holy, bringing renewal, warmth, and strength.”

Image of KILI-FM wind turbine by Keri Pickett, courtesy of Native Wind.