This Sunday morning, a great one moved on. Bob Gough served as an Honor the Earth board member for many years, and we miss him already. Bob was a leader in the development and advancement of renewable energy on tribal lands. In 1994 he founded the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, which today has representatives from 10 tribes across the Northern Plains, and is focused on tribal access to the Western Area Power Association (WAPA) grid as many of these tribes were dammed in the Pick Sloan Project, and have rights and a need for grid access. Their access to the grid and the “firming“ power of the mega dams could provide a significant opportunity for tribal wind generation; particularly since most of these tribes have vast wind resources. The Ft. Berthold reservation, for instance, has seventeen thousand times more wind capacity than the tribe could actually use, and Rosebud, Pine Ridge, Standing Rock, and others all have similar classes of wind potential.
Bob was active in straw bale building, and focused much of his work on Rosebud, the Sicangu Lakota reservation where he lived off and on for decades. Bob was a brilliant and generous man, relentless in his advocacy for sustainability and his efforts to apply "indigenuity" as a solution to some of the world’s most wicked problems. We are very grateful for his service, his wisdom, his leadership, and his friendship.
Winona LaDuke, Honor the Earth Executive Director, was very close to Gough. “Bob was a true mentor to me, and he encouraged all of my thinking. He was my climate change, resilience, and adaptation guru, and he prodded us all along with a great humbleness. In all of his work he was a beacon, a star of navigation in unknown territory.” Remembering Gough’s quips and wordsmithing, LaDuke recalls one of her favorite quotes: ‘You are either at the table or your are on the menu.’
Shannon Martin, Honor the Earth Board of Directors Co-Chair, says, “"Bob was our Board’s wise sage and voice of pragmatism. His extensive knowledge of environmental law, practice, organizing strategies and his vast network brought so much to Honor the Earth's vision & work. He will be greatly missed."
“Paul Demain, Honor the Earth Board of Directors Co-Chair, says, “Bob was a soft spoken but deep thinking intellectual whose defense of clean water, air and resources was unwavering on behalf of his many, many friends. His smile and intended humor in time of stress will be greatly missed.”
Frank Bibeau, Honor the Earth Attorney, says, “I will miss Bob, as many of us will. My last pleasure of sharing Bob's company was at the Rosebud treaty meeting this past August. Bob reminded me that we first met over 30 years before working on the wild rice protection at the Minnesota legislature with Winona. Bob has been a true friend to Indian Country and I was glad to be working with Bob again, on KXL and Treaty Rights. What I learned about Bob in his passing, by photos, is that he was also a Santa Claus. Bob gave us a lot of hope and cheer along the way. Now I will be reminded of Bob when I see Santa."
We at Honor the Earth are very saddened by this loss, and we commit to carry on the work he laid out for us all. He is remembered as a kind, humorous and hard working man, and LaDuke’s words to her friend Bob Gough remember his commitment to wind energy and his love for his adopted homeland of Hawaii. “May the wind blow gently over you my brother. I hope you see the Southern Cross on your way out.”
Donations to Bob's Memorial, Final Tour, and Scholarship Fund can be made here.