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Standing Rock Sioux Tribe celebrates new electric vehicles, charging station | The Mighty 790 KFGO

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Joseph McNeil, CEO of SAGE Development Authority, Tomi Kay Phillips, president of Sitting Bull College, Koreen Ressler, vice president of operations at Sitting Bull College, and Pam Ternes, director of Standing Rock Public Transit, pose next to a new Ford E-Transit van

FORT YATES, N.D. (North Dakota Monitor) – The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe celebrated a $13.4 million inter-tribal electric vehicle charging network project in Fort Yates on Wednesday.

Standing Rock received six EVs that will be transferred to SAGE Development Authority, Sitting Bull College, tribal casinos and Standing Rock Public Transit.

The vehicles are five Ford F-150 Lightnings and a Ford E-Transit passenger van, which will be used by the tribal transit system to ferry veterans, elderly residents and others to appointments and locations around the region.

Attendees of an event Wednesday also viewed a freshly powered-up EV charging station at Sitting Bull College.

Joseph McNeil, chief executive officer of the SAGE Development Authority, said it is “vital” that tribal lands have this new EV technology and infrastructure so they can participate in the nationwide transition to clean energy.

“People are going to be turning to this,” McNeil said. “If it all just exists around us and not within our communities, then we won’t be involved in the economy of it and the tourism of it.”

SAGE Development Authority describes itself as a Native-led, community development organization for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The organization also is the Public Power Authority on the reservation, which oversees energy production in the region.

McNeil said they have plans to install two more EV charging stations this year. One will be at the Fort Yates Tribal Office and the other in McLaughlin, South Dakota.

The new EV charging station network is part of a larger regional project across the Upper Midwest conducted by Minneapolis-based Native Sun Community Power Development.

Half of the project’s funding will come from a $6.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technology Office with the remaining costs covered by partnering organizations, which are listed on the project website.

The effort is part of a larger regional initiative that will see 120 new charging stations installed on tribal lands across North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, according to Native News Online.

McNeil said SAGE is looking at applying for more grants to install additional EV charging stations across the Standing Rock tribal lands to expand their renewable footprint, including an independent, solar-powered unit.

McNeil said he was overjoyed to see a group of local middle school students attend Wednesday’s event because the new EV infrastructure is setting up a much larger generational transition to clean energy.

“I was able to relate to them how our culture is involved in renewable energy as we talk about our relationship to the Earth,” McNeil said. “That was a really important part of the morning … is to connect this, not just to my generation and how we’re utilizing it, but connect it to the next generations coming up.”

John Pretty Bear, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Council, said he’s excited to see the tribe moving into clean energy transportation. He added the new technology is bound to create new jobs and training opportunities for their youth.

“It shows these kids and the people here on Standing Rock that we are moving in a new direction in this day and age,” Pretty Bear said.

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