Tribal Leaders and DOE Officials Gathered for Two-Day Event to Discuss Pathways to Advance Clean Energy Deployment and Strengthen Tribal Energy Sovereignty

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with the National Conference of State Legislatures, yesterday concluded its 7th Tribal Clean Energy Summit. During the two-day nation-to-nation conference, DOE welcomed more than 60 Tribal leaders and 350 participants for open and comprehensive conversations on Tribal energy concerns. Throughout the summit, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs Director Wahleah Johns, and other senior DOE officials met with participants to exchange ideas and explore cost-effective approaches to Tribal energy sovereignty consistent with President Biden’s commitment to an inclusive and equitable transition to a clean energy future. 

“For the Biden-Harris Administration, tribal engagement isn’t a box to be checked—it's a partnership to be forged,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “It was an honor to sit with Tribal leaders and hear how the Department can better align our resources with their vision for a clean energy future—to chart a path forward—together—that advances Tribal energy sovereignty, strengthens energy independence, and addresses the climate crisis.” 

“We know that progress takes commitment, and the Department of Energy is committed to strengthening Tribal energy sovereignty. This means ensuring that Tribal communities have access to the historic funding opportunities available and being a partner to Tribal Nations’ goals of a cleaner, safer and more prosperous energy future. The future is bright for Indian Country, and we know that when tribes succeed, the United States energy security is strengthened,” said Wahleah Johns, DOE’s Director of the Office of Indian Energy. 

During the summit, Tribal leaders participated in a high-level overview of key DOE programs, a moderated tribal leader-focused caucus discussion, and a facilitated roundtable discussion on tribal energy sovereignty with Secretary Granholm. Other key energy attendees engaged in a separate and highly impactful track with DOE briefings on current developments and opportunities, as well as key external strategies to support tribal energy infrastructure development and advance tribal energy security and sovereignty. 

“What a great conference! Good job DOE! I was able to spend some quality time with DOE staff, along with other Tribal Leaders,” said Myron Lizer, Vice President of the Navajo Nation. “The Navajo Nation looks very much forward to continuing collaboration with DOE.  Thank you and great job to Director Johns—Ahéhee’!” 

“As the United States moves towards a cleaner future, it’s so important to continue these government-to-government conversations with Tribal nations to ensure that we strike an equitable balance on energy resources that preserves our ability to maintain our tribal sovereignty and protects our natural and cultural resources,” said Bobby Gonzalez, Principal Executive Officer and Chairman, Caddo Nation of Oklahoma. “Tribal lands hold so much potential to produce energy – from both traditional and renewable resources – and it’s been very positive to see the Department of Energy, along with the entire Biden Administration, acknowledge that.” 

“Coming to Washington D.C. from Southeast Alaska is quite a journey for meetings. Our unique needs in my community are not normally understood or considered. I feel that this summit was very successful, and I feel heard for my community,” said Keolani K. Booth, Councilman for the Metlakatla Indian Community. “I am bringing home a a great wealth of information and new relationships that I think put my tribe, and Indian country in a better place than ever before.” 

"Learning of all the opportunities available to Indian Country and Alaska at the Tribal Clean Energy Summit was awesome,” said Chairman Melvin J. Baker of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. "Every tribe is different as well as their needs for their homelands. I look forward to the next summit!" 

"We thank the Congress and the White House on enactment and implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act and deeply appreciate the historic investments in renewable energy infrastructure that will enable us to achieve energy self-reliance and self-determination,” said Donna Thompson, Vice Chair of the Fort Hall Business Council, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. “We appreciate the efforts of the Department of Energy to work closely with us to help ensure that the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes can fully utilize available federal resources under these laws to meet the energy needs of future generations.” 

“I appreciate Secretary Granholm taking the time to meet with us, I had the privilege to meet with her previously as well. Her effort in working with Tribal Nations is quite commendable.  We have great hope that Secretary Granholm will continue her working relationship with Tribal Nations,” said Chairman Mark Fox of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. “As an energy producing Tribe, we have much experience in regulation and responsible development. As we further develop our renewal energy projects, we look forward to a streamlined funding process." 

“The Tribal Clean Energy Summit was valuable to build relationships with DOE, especially with Pueblos, because tribes are at all different stages in the journey toward energy sovereignty,” said Clarice Madalena, Director of Natural Resources, Pueblo of Jemez. 

“Climate impacts to resources that Tribal people require for life has reached catastrophic levels. As a Tribal Independent Power Producer, Energy Keepers Inc was excited to participate in this year’s Tribal Clean Energy Summit as we look forward to partnering with DOE to bring additional renewable energy to the country and begin addressing these impacts. Recently passed legislation has provided an unprecedented opportunity for Tribes and Tribal entities to meaningfully contribute to the country’s energy transition and reinvest in tribal communities.  This year’s summit did a great job of launching meaningful opportunities for Tribes to benefit from the new programs created by the legislation,” said Brian Lipscomb, CEO, Energy Keepers Inc., a wholly owned corporation of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. 

In its response to President Biden’s Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships, DOE reviewed its engagement with Tribal nations and communities in 2021 to better understand what it means to honor Tribal sovereignty and ensure that Tribal leaders’ perspectives are better integrated into DOE’s decision-making process and policy deliberations. Under Secretary Granholm’s leadership, DOE has convened numerous consultations, listening sessions, and roundtable discussions to meet the President’s vision and strengthen its commitment to working with Tribal nations and communities to build an inclusive and equitable clean energy future.