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Native American Tribes and Energy Commission Collaborating on Renewable Energy Efforts

By Media Office Staff

The California Energy Commission and the Bishop Paiute Tribe are working on renewable energy efforts.

The two co-sponsored the Sustaining Tribal Resources Conference at the Bishop Indian Education Center, which featured speakers from state agencies and various tribes. The conference, which was held July 9 to 11, initiated and expanded dialogue concerning past and current state energy-related and climate change projects, plans, and assessments in relation to tribal cultural and environmental issues.

During the conference opening, Bishop Paiute Tribe Chair Allen Summers Sr. expressed the hope that “we can learn from this discussion and grow stronger.”

Topics discussed during the conference included on/off reservation environmental assessment, cultural landscapes, conservation easements, traditional ecological knowledge, and climate change resiliency.

“What we do here in California matters, we create models for engaging with Native American tribes,” said Energy Commission Chair David Hochschild. “We have the opportunity to show how a tribal-state relationship can be healthy and productive.”

The invite-only conference kicked off with tribal-led field trips for conference participants to Owens Lake, a walking tour on tribal land to explore the tribe’s efforts to achieve sustainable food sovereignty, water monitoring, and Paiute culture, and a tour of a historic battle site monument.

“This conference is years in the making and reflects the Energy Commission’s desire for dialogue, partnerships and real improvements in tribal relations,” said Energy Commissioner Karen Douglas. “The people in this room have helped changed the way the state works with tribes.”

Hochshild, Douglas, and Summers were among the featured speakers during the conference. Others included Kathy Bancroft, the tribal historical preservation officer for the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, and Christina Snider, tribal advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom.

During Hochschild’s remarks, he stated that “when we take on the biggest challenges, climate change being one, this is where we tap into the best of the human spirit.”

The conference stemmed from discussions after the Energy Commission sponsored the California Tribal Energy Summit. The November 2018 summit was organized to start or advance dialogue between California Native American tribes and the state’s energy agencies on advancing climate change and energy goals.

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