THROW THE SWITCH!
KILI-FM, Largest Native American Radio Station,
Dedicates Wind Turbine July 31
Project cuts carbon emissions, saves one of country’s poorest reservations $12k per year, and points to future of alternative energy in Indian Country
Pine Ridge, SD (July 31, 2008) - With an eye toward a future when Native American lands generate a substantial portion of the United States’ clean energy, radio station KILI-FM will begin operating under its own wind power at a wind turbine dedication ceremony July 31.
KILI, located in Porcupine, SD on the Pine Ridge Reservation, is the largest Indian radio station in the country. The turbine launch marks the station’s 25th anniversary as “the Voice of the Lakota People.”
“Wind energy is the fastest growing energy source in the world, and Native communities have an excellent potential to be a part of that trend,” said Winona LaDuke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth, a nonprofit group that supports environmental activism and sustainability in Native communities. “We see the KILI wind turbine as a flagship project, a springboard for a broad, tribal renewable energy initiative.”
The turbine is expected to produce more than 92,171 kWh of power annually, saving KILI radio $12,000 in electric bills. KILI began tracking wind data six years ago and erected the turbine in June during a week-long training session for more than 40 tribal members interested in working in the wind industry.
That training offers just one tangible example of the benefits of Native clean energy. Wind power on reservation lands could create green jobs, provide for a cleaner world, generate revenue through the sale of excess power, and serve as a potential piece of the solution for establishing US energy independence. The Department of Energy estimates that Native lands have the potential to harness enough wind to generate more than 22 percent of the United States’ electricity.
The Rapid City Journal lauded the turbine’s construction as a victory for both South Dakota and the Lakota people. “Pine Ridge and the state’s other reservations have a unique opportunity to develop wind energy in South Dakota because they can produce more energy than they need on site and they have the need for the economic development,” wrote the editorial board.
Following the turbine’s launch, advocates and entrepreneurs in the Native clean energy community will build on KILI’s momentum by planning new wind and solar sites as well as collaborating with legislators on beneficial statewide energy policies.
The dedication will begin at 1 p.m. July 31 and will include several speakers, a Lakota feast including grilled buffalo burgers and buffalo wild rice soup, plus music by Native folk and blues rock musician Keith Secola. The celebration -- which will be powered by a solar generator onsite -- will also feature a solar heating panel installation workshop.
The vision to power KILI-FM with an alternative source dates back to the station’s founding, which occurred at the same time many Natives on Pine Ridge opposed local uranium mining for its ill health effects on the community. Today, as nuclear energy is reconsidered as a solution to global warming, Indian lands again are being looked at as sources of uranium. “The threat of uranium mining makes demonstrating alternatives even more urgent,” said LaDuke.
KILI-FM is integral to community life on Pine Ridge, where cable TV and Internet connections are rare. The station broadcasts Native drum groups, updates from the local health clinic and high schools, tribal council meetings and a national call-in show on Native issues. KILI also covers public hearings with Lakota interpreters to ensure everyone on the reservation can be informed.
KILI’s unique perspective has long garnered support off the reservation as well. Initial funding for the $120,000 wind turbine project came in part from Angelina Jolie’s All Tribes Foundation as well as the Indigo Girls. Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard has also been an advocate for many years; he recently stopped by Pine Ridge’s Red Cloud Indian School for a performance with Native blues band Golden Warrior.
All of this adds up to what people at Pine Ridge would describe as pretty "kili” -- which means “cool” or “awesome” in the Lakota language.
ABOUT HONOR THE EARTH
Honor the Earth is a national Native organization whose mission is to raise awareness and funds for Native environmental initiatives. Honor the Earth partnered with KILI Radio to raise the money needed for the wind turbine, its construction and installation. The organization conducts pilot projects on reservations nationally as part of its strategy to demonstrate the viability of renewable energy and call for a new, green economy for Native communities.
WHO: KILI, 90.1 FM, Porcupine SD and Honor The Earth
WHAT: Wind turbine dedication ceremony, feast and music
WHY: To reduce carbon emissions, save money and promote clean energy on Native lands
WHEN: Thursday, July 31, 1 PM
WHERE: 109 Lamont, on Porcupine Butte in Porcupine, SD
Please contact Chris Nelson, at 206-447-1801 email@example.com for photos of the wind turbine and its installation, or to arrange interviews with Winona LaDuke (executive director, Honor the Earth), Melanie Janis (station manager, KILI-FM), Pat spears (president, Intertribal Council On Utility Policy) and others.