2024 Energy Sovereignty Workshop a Great Success

Energy Sovereignty Workshop a Great Success

On March 12th and 13th, 2024 the Energy Sovereignty Institute (ESI) and Microgrid Systems Lab (MSL), and their partners at Navajo Technical University, Rochester Institute of Technology, and Seattle University convened key stakeholders for an inaugural Energy Sovereignty Research Workshop.  Funded by the National Science Foundation (with additional support from the New America Foundation and Remy’s Good Day Fund), 32 participants representing academia, Tribal governments and agencies, Federally Funded Research and Development Centers, and energy sector organizations gathered at the Hyatt Tamaya at Santa Ana Pueblo for the event, designed to create a research agenda aimed at supporting clean energy transitions in Tribal Nations.

While the potential for clean energy in Tribal communities is immense, we identified a need for convergent, collaborative research to overcome technical challenges, integrate Indigenous knowledge and values into energy planning, and understand the complex socio-technical systems in which clean energy technologies are embedded in the context of Tribal Nations.

Photo credit: Shayla Blatchford

Workshop Design & Outcomes

The workshop structure included keynote speakers, participant presentations and plenary discussions, and hands-on breakout groups. Outstanding keynote presentations were delivered by Jacob Moore, Vice President and Special Advisor to the President for American Indian Affairs at Arizona State University, and Elmer Guy, President, Navajo Technical University. Breakout groups comprised Technical and Non-Technical Challenges, Professional and Vocational Indigenous Workforce, and Research Agendas. MSL Member Sandia National Laboratoriesā€™ Indian Energy program technical staff also participated, and served on the organizing committee. Presentation slides and other materials are available for download at the Energy Sovereignty Institute workshop webpages. In addition to the keynotes and organizers’ institutions, participating organizations were:

University of North Dakota
U.S. Department of Energy
Indigenized Energy
Blackfeet Community College
Sustainable Native Communities Design Lab
National Science Foundation
Picuris Pueblo
University of Alaska, Fairbanks
University of Oklahoma
Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
Native American Capital
Sovereign Energy
Seneca Environmental
Menominee Tribe
Native Renewables
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Grid Alternatives
Navajo Tribal Utilities Authority

The workshop has been featured in Tribal College, the Journal of American Indian Higher Education. As a member of the organizing committee, MSL / ESI led the design of the workshop; ESI Director and MSL President David Breecker led the facilitation of the event. MSL Advisory Board member Nathan Williams of RIT served as Principal Investigator. The primary outcome of the workshop is a research agenda to advance clean energy technology and project development in Tribal Nations, with a White Paper to be published detailing the results. The paper will also identify strategies to engage Indigenous scholars in clean energy research and professional fields, promote indigenous workforce training, and foster effective collaboration between the research and practitioner communities.

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