Red Cloud, Solar Energy International to Build the Native American Solar Workforce

Henry Red Cloud’s businesses have provided training to Tribal members from more than 50 Tribes. (Courtesy Red Cloud Renewable)

Henry Red Cloud, through his Pine Ridge-based renewable energy company, Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE), and his nonprofit, Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC), has been manufacturing and installing solar heaters for Tribal members and communities since 2003. He’s also delivered workforce training to Tribal members from more than 50 Tribes. 

And the direct 5th generation descendant of Chief Red Cloud — one of the last Lakota war chiefs and most famous Native Americans in history — isn’t stopping now

Red Cloud and and Solar Energy International (SEI), partners for decades, are leading the professional level Tribal Train the Trainer (T4) Program — designed specifically to build the Native American solar workforce. T4 will create a Tribal solar advocate network that will spread renewable technology across Indian Country, while creating sustainable jobs.

Solar Energy International has been the premiere solar training organization since 1991 with more than 70,000 students taking their courses. More than 25 percent of all North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) have received training through SEI.

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In 2019, nine students took the T4 training — three women and six men from five Tribes. Five went on to get their national NABCEP solar technician certification. This year, the organization has funding for five additional students.

The initial five students and two auditors will be selected by June 15, 2020 from all applicants who have submitted applications by June 1. All training expenses (including food and lodging) will be covered except for travel costs, which the trainee’s Tribe or other sponsor must cover.

To qualify for a position, a candidate must have some solar and/or other renewable energy experience. They must commit to attending four week-long courses — two at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) on the Pine Ridge Reservation and two at SEI’s Solar Lab facility in Paonia, Colorado. They must also agree to co-teach a one week course to new trainees at RCREC (with SEI trainer assistance).

Upon completion of the training, the participants will be granted full access to the SEI Job Board and Mentor Network and other entrepreneurial assistance, which will connect them with many solar professionals and companies all across the United States.

Some graduates may be offered the opportunity to further advance their solar career by becoming a SEI Instructor both here in the United States and possibly even internationally.

For those wanting to work within the national Tribal community, participants will become part of RCR’s Green Teams Across the Northern Plains, where trainees who have worked with Henry Red Cloud will be encouraged to develop solar and renewable energy projects on their own reservations and invited to join projects across the northern Plains and possibly much further.

Graduates of this program will also become part of the RCR Advisory Board and be invited to participate and possibly become a trainer in other renewable energy approaches presented at the Center (e.g. Off-Grid Solar Furnaces, solar water pumping, solar lighting and building mobile solar power stations and much more).

Download the application online at RedCloudRenewable,org.

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