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Oklahoma tribes urged to welcome wind energy industry

RANDY ELLIS Modified: August 24, 2009 at 10:38 am •  Published: June 5, 2009

/> These projects would not have to tie into the electrical grid so there would be minimal regulatory and intergovernmental problems, he said.

McAlpine said he believes most Oklahoma tribes are already at least studying the idea of using renewable energy to power tribal complexes and casinos.

While most tribes are located in eastern Oklahoma, where the wind is relatively weak, tribes in the western part of the state, such as the Cheyenne-Arapahos, might have the potential to develop wind farms, Bellmard said.

He said the Kaw tribe has been conducting a wind study for 7 years at Chillocco in northern Oklahoma and it is conceivable a wind farm could be built there.

Some tribes have already made commitments to green energy.

Gregory E. Pyle, chief of the Choctaw Nation, said his tribe made a decision 6 or 8 months ago to build a new tribal complex south of Durant. The tribe plans to build the complex to environmentally friendly, energy saving standards and to get it LEED certified, he said.

"This will be the first Native American administrative complex that has this certification,” he said.

The complex will be more expensive to build, but should save money in the long run through energy savings, he said.

"The biggest thing is to be an example in Oklahoma and to show that going green is really, really important to our state and our Indian nation,” he said.

Pyle said that he believes his tribe’s decisions fit well with American Indian tribes’ centuries-old tradition of "protecting mother earth.”