OPINION: Stewards of land means promoting clean energy

BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
11/01/2016 10:00 AM
At Cherokee National Holiday this year, I spoke of a renewed effort for Cherokees to become stewards of our land. To advance that effort, I appointed the first ever secretary of natural resources. We also established the Cherokee Nation Fish and Wildlife Association. Now, we’ve expanded that effort into another arena: clean energy.

The Cherokee Nation owns about 4,000 acres of agricultural pastureland around the site of the former Chilocco Indian boarding school near Newkirk in Kay County in north central Oklahoma. After more than 10 years of studying the feasibility and environmental impact of such a project, the Tribal Council approved a lease of that tribal trust land to wind farm developer PNE Wind to develop a wind farm and help lessen the country’s dependence on fossil fuels.

A wind farm isn’t just good for the environment and for the United States as a whole. It will come at a great benefit to Cherokee people by bringing in a considerable amount of new revenue for the Cherokee Nation. Our ground lease agreement with PNE Wind will generate about $1 million per year, on average, for tribal programs and services over the life of the lease. This is a much-needed boost for our tribal programs, as we always try to stretch every dollar as far as it will go to help Cherokee Nation citizens.

The development of a wind farm is a great step toward advancing clean energy and moving away from coal-fired power. This is what it means to be stewards of our land. Wind energy is pollution free, doesn’t require fuel or water, and the land beneath the wind farm will still be used for agricultural purposes. Currently, we collect lease payments from farmers and ranchers who run cattle on that pastureland, so this project will help us collect lease payments for both operations. PNE Wind is also obligated to restore the land to its present condition should the company ever cease operations.

Chilocco Indian School operated from 1884 to 1980. The Cherokee Nation and several other tribes have owned parcels of land in the area since the 1980s, and there has been much discussion over the years about how to best utilize those parcels. After careful thought and consideration about the environmental impacts, and what is best for the Cherokee Nation operationally, the current agreement is by far the best scenario. This agreement brings us in line with other tribes in the area to develop a project that is profitable for all involved, while maintaining the integrity of the land.

I am proud the Cherokee Nation is part of the clean energy movement sweeping our country, and I applaud the Tribal Council for agreeing it is in the best interest of our tribal people, and for future generations, to explore energy options that leave our land, our water and our air in better condition than we found them.

Opinion

BY KEITH HARPER
Cherokee Nation Citizen
05/24/2019 02:30 PM
Late last week, the Election Commission of the Cherokee Nation in a unanimous decision disqualified David Walkingstick for the upcoming principal chief election because of several seemingly blatant violations of the Cherokee Nation’s election laws. Of greatest concern, the commission’s decision cites over...

BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
03/15/2019 08:48 AM
Native children are removed from their homes at a higher rate than most of their peers. Nonetheless, in the recent Texas v. Bernhardt case, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act is unconstitutional because it is race based. The ...

BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
03/02/2019 11:53 AM
Every time a tribal citizen registers a vehicle with the Cherokee Nation, they make an investment in public education and our young people. You see, our vehicle tags are more than just a pretty tag. By Cherokee Nation law, 38 percent of th...

BY BILL JOHN BAKER
Principal Chief
02/22/2019 03:24 PM
Telling the Cherokee story – our history, our heritage – is a skill that our people have passed down from one generation to the next. Storytelling is a cornerstone of our culture. That’s why I am so proud we have launched ...

BY MARK DREADFULWATER
Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
02/22/2019 03:22 PM
It had been 14 years and 81 days since I turned 18 years old. It had been that long since I became eligible to vote. I didn’t believe it mattered. I kept telling people one opinion would not make a differ...

BY CHUCK HOSKIN JR
Cherokee Nation Secretary of State
01/31/2019 10:00 AM
Recent political events from Senator Elizabeth Warren’s DNA results have raised important questions nationally of what it means to be a citizen of a federally recognized tribe. These events—and disparaging statements made by elected leaders and political pundits in resp...