Idaho Energy Freedom hosted its first webinar on December 1, titled Idaho’s Clean Energy Future: Indigenous Perspectives. The presentation was covered widely across the state by news media, including KTVB, Idaho Capital Sun, Idaho State Journal, and the Lewiston Morning Tribune.
More than 300 participants registered, and almost 100 attended live for this educational event, featuring Shoshone-Bannock tribal member Talia Martin and former Nez Perce tribal vice-chair Chantel Greene, both of whom are experienced in tribal and governmental issues related to renewable energy. Watch the replay here.
The conversation centered around Native American sovereignty, particularly concerning clean energy. Chantel Greene emphasized preserving the Nez Perce tribe’s cultural way of life, including the connection to water, ecosystems, and especially endangered salmon. Greene shared that the challenges posed by urban development, agriculture, and climate change underscore the critical need for water preservation and conservation.
Both speakers emphasized the need for culturally-informed partnerships and collaboration to prevent further loss of tribal history, language, and identity, including innovative energy solutions and restoration efforts to protect water resources for the benefit of all.
In her remarks, Martin discussed the importance of elevating Indigenous voices, discussing the impacts of nuclear waste and extractive mining on ancestral lands. She also stated that more Indigenous perspectives are needed to prevent destructive forms of energy development.
Martin cited shifts in the physical and political landscape that are contributing to more renewable energy projects in the West. The role of state policies, the flexibility needed for tribes to make decisions based on community needs, and the ongoing challenges tribes face in accessing information and advocating for favorable policies all helps determine which forms of energy are developed and where the economic prosperity they bring will flow.
Greene said that in Idaho, compared to Washington and Oregon, there is less transparency about how policy is made and less Native representation at the policymaking level.
For those energy developers who want to partner with tribes, Greene stressed being open-minded, willing to learn, and collaborative when building relationships. She advocated for placing tribes at decision-making tables to preserve cultural and environmental values.
In her past role in the Shoshone-Bannock Department of Energy, Martin also advocated for greater tribal representation. In her current role at Grid Alternatives, she collaborates with over 50 tribal partners, focusing on installing solar projects on federally recognized tribal lands.
Both speakers stressed the importance of tribes speaking for themselves and building capacity to solve problems on their own.
Including more Indigenous perspectives in Idaho’s clean energy economy is part of our collective moral obligation to be responsible stewards of the land, water, and natural resources. Thanks to all who joined the webinar, and stay tuned for another virtual gathering later soon!