TAOS, N.M., PINE RIDGE, S.D., Oct 8 (Reuters) – It is a jump from doing office paperwork to building solar power systems but that is the leap Lorraine Nez is taking to bring renewable energy to her Native American reservation.
Nez was one of a dozen Native trainees who took a month-long course this summer on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation to become certified solar power installers and trainers.
The students from six tribes are among Native Americans tapping into vast renewable energy potential on tribal lands and fighting economic inequalities holding back access to clean power.
“This is still a new industry, there are not many people out here in this world with any type of knowledge,” said Nez, 44, a former nurse with a degree in business management, who is from the Rosebud Sioux reservation, South Dakota and lives in Rapid City, South Dakota where she works in medical billing.
Native Americans are ten times more likely to not have electricity than the national average and, as people of color far less likely to have solar power, after 20th century rural electrification bypassed some of their communities, studies have shown.
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