Contact: Robert Blake, c. 612.669.1165,
Or Joseph McNeil, o. 701-854-9990,



November 3, 2021

Supporting efforts to “connect” Standing Rock, Red Lake, and other Reservations with vital medical, commerce, and government services, the U.S. Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office has selected Native Sun Community Power Development for a $6,666,667 award for the Upper Midwest Inter-Tribal EV Charging Community Network. The project is expected to commence in early 2022.

Catalyzing energy self-determination, this Native-led project will build regional partnerships to create an enduring ecosystem increasing Tribal EV use across the region, advancing equitable access to clean, affordable transportation, long-distance destinations, and new job opportunities. Native Sun and the Standing Rock Renewable Energy Power Authority (“SAGE”) will test and demonstrate EV use in rural, under-resourced Tribal communities in the target three-state geographic area of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, over the three-year funding period.

“We will fight for all our children and grandchildren’s future,” explained Native Sun Executive Director Robert Blake. “This is our answer to the fossil fuel industry. Big oil is going to build pipelines, a thing of the past. We are going to build the future with an EV charging network and will continue to fight for Mother Nature and the sacred.”

SAGE General Manager Joseph McNeil added: “We are very excited that the people of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe – and more specifically our children – will see EV charging stations and vehicles they can touch and experience in a way that makes renewables our lived reality, and refocuses our relationship with respect for Mother Earth and Mni Wiconi, Water of Life.”

The project will add EV charging stations on frequently traveled routes from the Red Lake and Standing Rock Reservations to critical destinations and along the Native American Scenic Byway (Lewis & Clark Trail) and be an important resource for all in this upper Midwest region. This partnership will expand and connect EV use in rural underserved communities facing harsh winters, build the region’s clean energy economy, and provide access to advanced vehicles and infrastructure for those disproportionately affected by transportation inequities. Partners will show EV infrastructure is an effective pathway to a green future for this region.

The dynamic project team consists of more than two dozen partners and participants, including Native Sun, SAGE, Red Lake Fishery, American Lung Association, Center for Energy and Environment, Minnesota Clean Cities Coalition, North Dakota Clean Cities Coalition, ZEF Energy, MN Pollution Control Agency, MN Power/Allete, Xcel Energy, Otter Tail Power, Connexus Capital based in New York, and eFormative Options based in Washington.

“Expanding access to electrified transportation will help ensure that everyone will benefit as cleaner vehicles become more widely available,” said Jon Hunter, Senior Director of Clean Air at the American Lung Association. “We are eager to work with all the project partners to demonstrate the benefits that electric vehicles will have in these communities and show how this can be replicated across the country.”

The project will demonstrate efficient investment and use of Electric Vehicle infrastructure including innovative charging technology in various settings (multi-family housing, school and public transit, goods delivery) and in cold climates. For vehicles, the project will deploy at least 19 new EVs plus related equipment by Tribal governments, utilities, schools, and businesses. By testing and demonstrating a variety of EV use cases in challenging environments, this project will provide valuable lessons and data. Project partners will install 59 fast-charging hubs and 63 Level 2 EV charging stations. In addition, essential education and outreach engagement at 52 events over 3 years will reach more than 10,000 attendees to support broader use and access to EVs and their important air quality and economic benefits across the Upper Midwest.

“This is a great example of direct Federal spending on new infrastructure in underserved communities,” Blake noted. “Native Sun and our partners hope to see more projects like this replicated around the country with more Tribal Communities & Reservations. This is one step forward in the right direction.”

Both Red Lake Nation and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are actively working to reduce the use of fossil fuels in all forms. Project partners will work with Tribal leaders and fleets to comprehensively evaluate the needs of each Reservation and develop a vision and pathway toward 100% clean energy vehicle use by a target date. This will include determining future infrastructure needs to support vehicle charging and how “Building Back Better” supports each Nation’s work to be fully powered by renewable electricity.

About Native Sun Community Power Development: A native-led nonprofit, Native Sun promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, and an equitable energy transition through K-12 and public education, workforce training, and demonstration to bring a clean energy economy to traditional lands of turtle island. Native Sun’s vision is to help native communities install sustainable energy systems on native lands, train and deploy a native renewable energy workforce, educate tribal youth and young people about climate change and the environment, and develop civic skills and capacity among native people to provide leadership on a just transition to energy sovereignty.

About Red Lake Band of Chippewa (Ojibwe) Indians: A series of solar + storage installations are in the works at Red Lake, now totaling 310 kW with more than 15 MW in additional solar capacity in planning stages. Project participants include Red Lake’s Fishery that currently uses aging diesel trucks for deliveries and Red Lake Family & Children Services that provides rides to medical appointments, activities, and other needs to facilities in Minneapolis, Fargo, St. Cloud, Grand Forks, Duluth and elsewhere.

About SAGE Development Authority: A federally chartered Section 17 Corporation approved by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, SAGE is one of just 2,000 public power authorities in the United States — charged with leading the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s development of renewable energy resources for economic development on the Reservation. In addition to electric vehicles and associated infrastructure, SAGE is actively developing assets in both wind and solar energy, for the long term benefit of the people of Standing Rock.

About Standing Rock Sioux Tribe: The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has become internationally recognized for its leadership in the non-violent protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which poses a threat to drinking water for Standing Rock and millions of others who depend on the Missouri River for clean water. The #NoDAPL protest served to raise awareness of the negative impact that fossil fuel infrastructure development has caused to the environment. In the aftermath of this movement, SRST is committed to sustainable energy and institution building within Standing Rock to ensure it is increasingly self-reliant in its present and future energy needs.

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Originally posted on the Native Sun website.