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Kevin R. Frost at NTES
Office of Indian Energy Director Kevin R. Frost delivers a keynote address at the 2019 National Tribal Energy Summit. Photo by NCSL

Every two years, leaders from tribal and state governments, federal agencies, private industry, utilities, and academia have an unparalleled opportunity to exchange ideas at the National Tribal Energy Summit (NTES) sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy in cooperation with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). 

With the theme of Tribal Energy: Powering Self-Determination, the 2019 NTES was held September 24–26, 2019, in Washington, D.C. The event brought together tribal and state leaders from across the nation along with their staffs, senior leadership from DOE and the Department of the Interior (DOI), industry experts, and tribal leaders from all corners of the country to explore new and cost-effective solutions to national energy interests.

Presentations and plenary session videos are available on the NCSL website, with select highlights included here.

Day One Dives into Federally Funded Tribal Programs and Projects

Ray C. Frost at NTES
Southern Ute Indian Tribe elder—and father of Office of Indian Energy Director Kevin R. Frost—Ray C. Frost delivered an invocation to commence the start of the 2019 NTES on Tuesday, September 24. Photo by NCSL

The 2019 NTES began Tuesday, September 24, with an invocation delivered by Southern Ute Indian Tribe elder, Ray C. Frost, father of Office of Indian Energy Director Kevin R. Frost. Director Frost delivered opening remarks to kick off the Summit, supported by a host of other DOE and federal agency representatives. In her keynote address, Indian law expert and advocate Maranda S. Compton explored ways Indian Country might participate in the developing gig economy. 

In the afternoon, Summit participants attended a series of learning labs focused on a variety of DOE tribal energy programs, initiatives, and projects—among them the DOE Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program, DOE efforts to involve younger generations in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and overviews of various DOE-funded projects across Alaska and the Lower 48.

Day Two Celebrates Women in Energy and Examines Policy in Indian Country

Two women at the panel in NTES.
The NTES Celebration of Women in Energy Breakfast featured keynotes by tribal business owner Michelle Holliday and Jennifer Lichter, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House. Photo by NCSL

The second day of the Summit started with a Celebration of Women in Energy breakfast, where an inspiring invocation from Bernadette Cuthair of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe led into women in energy focused keynotes from Jennifer Lichter, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council, and tribal business owner Michelle Holliday.

Growing up on and off the reservation at different times, I lived without electricity, running water, and heat. I know what those things mean…so every day when I step into my office I do not take it for granted. I understand what that struggle is.

Kevin R. Frost
Office of Indian Energy Director

Office of Indian Energy Director Frost followed those keynote addresses with moving remarks on how his personal history drives him to fulfill the Office’s mission of supporting fellow tribal leaders in finding solutions for energy security and sovereignty.

The morning concluded with a legislative focus, as U.S. Representative and member of the Cherokee Nation Markwayne Mullin (Oklahoma) expressed his views on tribal policy, followed by a panel on broader U.S. policy in Indian Country with various federal and tribal organization representatives and a presentation on DOI’s Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development and energy opportunities in Indian Country. Over lunch, attendees were treated to an in-depth armchair discussion among Indian law experts on the next era of self-determination.

The afternoon gave attendees options to attend various learning labs on topics including rural electrification and deployment of broadband, cybersecurity, tribal energy opportunities from the DOI Division of Energy and Mineral Development and U.S. Department of Agriculture, efforts to promote Alaska Native participation in STEM careers, and overviews of several DOE-funded tribal energy projects.

Exhibits and networking sessions created additional avenues for attendees to exchange ideas and make strategic business connections—including an evening networking reception.

Day Three Concluded with Remarks from the Under Secretary of Energy—and an Exciting Announcement

The final morning of the 2019 NTES began with learning sessions on the U.S. DOI Indian Energy Service Center and DOE Office of Electricity and Western Area Power Administration transmission and infrastructure improvements in Indian Country.

Next, in his keynote address, Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes announced a notice of intent from the Office of Indian Energy to issue a new funding opportunity for tribal energy infrastructure development—funding that will help Native American and Alaska Native communities harness their vast energy resources to reduce or stabilize energy costs, as well as increase energy security and resilience.

Under Secretary of Energy at NTES
On Thursday, September 26, Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes announced the Office of Indian Energy’s notice of intent to issue a new funding opportunity to support self-determined tribal energy development. Photo by NCSL

Fittingly, the event’s learning labs concluded with a presentation from Office of Indian Energy Deployment Supervisor Lizana Pierce on the array of technical assistance, capacity building, and funding opportunities the Office provides for Native American tribes and Alaska Natives.

Download the complete set of presentations and view plenary session videos from the 2019 NTES on the NCSL website.

View photos from the event on the Office of Indian Energy’s Flickr site.