SEI’s Native American program helps Native Americans meet their energy and housing needs with renewable energy and natural building. SEI works with Native American groups and nonprofit organizations, training people from the Western Shoshone, Skull Valley Goshute, Lakota Sioux, Yurok, Zuni, Hopi, and Chippewa Nations in renewable energy technologies.


Empowering people, communities, and businesses through solar education and training has been a key tenet of SEI since our founding in 1991. SEI’s Native American program works collaboratively with Native American communities to develop capacity in designing, training, and installing PV systems of all sizes.  

Here are examples of projects SEI has been invited to work with indigenous communities on:

‘Train the Trainer’

SEI once again joins forces with Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, this time for a year-long ‘Train the Trainer’ project.   Our aim is to advance the solar skills of tribal members from across the 37 Great Plains Tribes. SEI and RCR will identify and train a select group of Native Americans that already have interest, experience, and some training in solar electric, and are motivated to pursue advanced PV training.  By the end of the program, trainees will become Trainers, skilled to share their technical knowledge, and potentially propagate new solar infrastructure in multiple geographies and communities across the Northern Plains. Classes will take place at RCR and at SEI’s campus, as well as online. There will be support and opportunities for NABCEP certification, résumé building, and experiential learning through community projects. This project was made possible by generous support from All Points North Foundation.

Click here to learn more about the program, and how to participate:

Grid-tied PV Training in Pine Ridge, SD

SEI completed a 4-day training and installation class in collaboration with Lakota Solar Enterprise and Trees, Water & People.  This 4-day training was hosted at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Northern Cheyenne nation sent folks from their community to this training as part a larger effort to explore sustainable economic solutions to replace fossil fuel development on their lands.  In addition to this aspect, the World Wildlife Federation, who has been integral in supporting the Northern Cheyenne in their efforts to stop the Otter Creek coal mine, was able to get this effort included in a feature film being made by Avi Lewis regarding global climate change effects on indigenous people around the world and the potential solutions being explored.  SEI conducted a two day grid-tie class accompanied by two days installing a 1.4kW ground mounted system. Students were able to work on all aspects of the installation.

Portable PV Power Trailer at Oglala Lakota College

Solar Energy International teamed up with the Oglala Lakota College’s construction program for three days of training and installation of a mobile, off grid solar system.  Seventeen students and three of the college’s instructors participated in the course. At the end of the training the students had installed a fully functional solar powered mobile power system on their construction trailer.  The system will be used to provide power at community events, take solar education to the tribal schools, and provide power for the construction class during their work building houses on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.  This project was funded through the DOE SITN program which works to support regional community colleges and vo-tech schools to start PV training programs. See this link for more information on this project.

Solar Water Pumping at the Solar Warrior Farm

SEI partnered with Trees, Water & People and Lakota Solar Enterprise to host a week long workshop covering solar water pumping applications as well as the fundamentals of drip irrigation.  Expanding our partnership with these organizations, SEI spearheaded the design and installation of a solar water pumping system at the Henry Red Cloud Renewable Energy Training Center. This water pumping system will be utilized by the ‘Solar Warrior Farm.’