The mission of the national organization Green for All is to build an inclusive green economy, one “strong enough to lift people out of poverty”. That mission resonates strongly with our Native communities and our own mission at Honor. To forge a partnership, Winona LaDuke brought an Honor the Earth youth delegation to Green for All’s Dream Reborn conference in Memphis, Tennessee in April and then invited Green for All’s founder, Van Jones, to visit and speak to the Minneapolis Indian community in May 2008.
As part of Van Jones’ visit to Minneapolis, Honor the Earth and a coalition of local groups hosted a solar panel installation and training at Little Earth of United Tribes, the only Native-owned housing project in the nation. Over 15 Native community members took part in the two day training that included workshops on renewable energy, conservation, wind and solar power.
Once the training and installation was finished, Honor hosted a celebration that included Indigenous food and music. Over 100 Little Earth residents, community members, and elected officials, including the Mayor of Minneapolis and several state legislators, gathered to hear Winona and Van speak about green jobs and a just energy economy.
The Little Earth solar panels marked the urban Indian community’s first step towards building a renewable future, and it won’t be the last. In fact, the success of this event sparked the creation of an Indigenous Green Jobs Task Force in the state, formed with the support of Honor the Earth, to advocate for a green economy and green collar jobs in Minnesota’s Native communities.
Honor the Earth provided staff and campaign support for the Task Force in its nascent stages. We also produced an educational booklet entitled ‘Launching a Green Economy for Brown People,’ that makes a case for developing tribal energy and food sovereignty in Minnesota.