Henry Red Cloud Returns to Native American Reservation, Starts Business and Renewable Energy Training Center

| 6/15/2010 2:51:31 PM

NAOn his way back from Oklahoma City, Henry Red Cloud, owner of Lakota Solar Enterprises and creator of Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, took some time to talk to me about renewable energy projects happening among Native American tribes. Red Cloud, a respected Lakota elder and a fifth-generation descendent of Chief Red Cloud, started creating interest and opportunities for renewable energy, especially solar, when he moved back to the reservation in Pine Ridge, S.D., 12 years ago. This led to him creating his renewable energy business and a training center.

“I always wanted to move back, and I had high hopes of finding a home and a job,” Red Cloud says.

After both of those searches turned up empty, Red Cloud found his own way to fix the problem. While building his own home, Red Cloud started Googling renewable energy. He was looking for an alternative to the wood burning he did in the winter and found an air heater. Then he dismantled the heater to see how it worked and stumbled on the idea of making his own solar air heaters. Red Cloud used his curiosity and 16 years of experience as a steel worker to solve both the home and job problems.

“I knew this would create savings and economic development,” Red Cloud says.

But Red Cloud didn’t want to keep this new idea to himself. He started his own company, Lakota Solar Enterprises, and started working with other Native Americans. His company is one of the first fully owned and operated Native American renewable energy companies in the nation. At first, Red Cloud and his crew used pre-manufactured solar panels and built the supporting structure, but by 2007 the company was producing its own solar collector panels.

The solar heaters Lakota Solar Enterprises creates work as a supplement to other heating such as wood burning. The solar systems from Red Cloud’s company circulate the air through the house using a squirrel cage blower. The whole system uses about as much energy as a 50-watt light bulb and can save 20 to 35 percent on heating costs. And with do-it-yourself kits selling for $1,500 and installation within a 200 mile radius for $2,000, the systems pay for themselves in three to four years. Red Cloud said the lifespan of the system is about 30 years, and he has a friend who has owned a solar heating system for 27 years and has never had to do any maintenance.NA2 

Unique Material
8/12/2010 7:40:40 PM

This is fantastic news. Exactly what I have been praying for. I'm so glad to have come across this article. Many blessings in your endeavor, Henry Red Cloud!

7/9/2010 10:09:46 PM

It is terrific to see native people shown as the intelligent people they are. This business is wonderful. I have never heard of it before. Being in Kentucky, also, I understand what David is saying. Would he like to help open a business here? Thankyou for the article.

B Knight
7/9/2010 1:40:23 PM

Here's a good page that shows you 3 different do-it-yourself air heaters, with suggestions on how to build your own heater using the best features from all three. http://greenterrafirma.com/solar-air-heating.html Here's another page on the same site providing info on DIY batch water heaters. http://greenterrafirma.com/batch_solar_collector.html If you look around the site, there is also info on how to make a solar oven for under $10, rain barrels, DIY wind turbine, etc.

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