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Tribes Will Use Federal Grant to Expand Electric Vehicle Charging Network Across MN, ND, SD

Hat tip to Bluestem Prairie!

Also charged up about electric vehicles are the Red Lake Nation and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation. Alternative energy development groups from both tribes have won a $6.67-million grant from the United States Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office to build the Upper Midwest Inter-Tribal EV Charging Community Network. This grant was part of $199 million allocated to 25 projects to promote the development and deployment of electric cars and trucks, create jobs, and save the planet.

Native Sun Community Power Development, map of Inter-Tribal EV Charging Network, press release, 2021.11.03.
Native Sun Community Power Development, map of Inter-Tribal EV Charging Network, press release, 2021.11.03.

With this money, Native Sun Community Power Development exec and Red Lake citizen Bob Blake says the tribes will build 122 charging hubs in a network linking the tribes to Minneapolis, Fargo, Pierre, Rapid City, and Sioux Falls:

“The project is an electric vehicle charging network that is going to stretch from Minneapolis, St. Paul, the Twin Cities, all the way up to the Red Lake Nation, encompassing all 11 tribal nations in the state of Minnesota, and then over into North Dakota, to the Standing Rock Tribe, and then down into South Dakota, back to back to Minneapolis,” said Blake.

The project partners will install 63 Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging stations, the most prevalent style in the United States. They will also install 59 fast-charging hubs in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. Over the 3 years funding window, they will also lead education and outreach at 52 events intended to support & motivate broader use and access to EVs across the Upper Midwest [Emma Needham, “A New Kind of Pipeline,” Minnesota Native News, 2021.11.10].

The project will address a dearth of charging stations in North and South Dakota:

Though the project will fund EV charging stations predominately on the Red Lake and Standing Rock reservations, American Lung Association director of clean air Jon] [Hunter said it also includes some money to help close a fast-charging gap between Bismarck and Fargo, as well as allocations for charging stations on the Native American Scenic Byway, which connects four reservations from Standing Rock to the Crow Creek Reservation along the Missouri River in the Dakotas. Some charging stations could be installed on other Native American reservations in the three states [Adam Willis, “EV Charging Network to Link Minnesota, North Dakota Reservations Seeking Freedom from Oil,” Brainerd Dispatch, 2021.12.01].

The Red Lake and Standing Rock nations will also use grant money to buy electric vehicles for tribal government and conduct education and research to support EV adoption:

The grant money will also be used to purchase 19 electric vehicles for use by tribal governments and pay for outreach that includes 52 events over the next three years. Blake said the vehicles would consist of school buses and public transit vehicles to transport tribal members to medical or other appointments within the reservation. The tribes and several partners will study how they operate in a climate that can be severely cold in winter.

…Since the Dakotas stand near the bottom in EV adoption rates and rural communities have yet to embrace EVs, outreach will be a priority for the project. Hunter said the American Lung Association would support the tribal outreach efforts as the project moves forward through ride-and-drives and other activities [Frank Jossi, “After Pipeline Fights, Tribes Get Chance to Tell Different Story with Electric Vehicles,” Energy News Network, 2021.11.15].

You won’t have to be Indian to use these new charging stations. The tribes welcome tourists to plug in as well:

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe aims to promote EV use on its reservation, not only for official use, but for tourism use as well. “For Standing Rock, we wanted to utilize electronic vehicle use on the Lewis & Clark Byway,” said SAGE General Manager Joseph McNeil to Native News Online. Seventy-one miles of the Byway are on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation [Darren Thompson, “Native-Owned Renewable Energy Companies to Receive More than $6.5 Million from Department of Energy,” Yahoo via Native News Online, 2021.11.08].

We’re lucky to have good Ojibwe and Lakota neighbors to help the Dakotas catch up with the future.


  1. John 2021-12-02 08:50

    Great news and a wiser investment.
    GM and Ford will only survive after a federal bailout and protectionism. Federal protectionism that goes too far will temp the Chinese to nationalize US companies doing business in China. The Chinese EV invasion is beginning. It will make the Japanese small car invasion of the 1970s look puny in comparison.

  2. Mark Winegar 2021-12-02 20:43

    This is welcome news. Charging stations are essential to the advance of EVs wherever they are made. BTW, many “foreign” car companies build the cars the sell in America within the United States. For instance, Subarus are manufactured in Lafayette, Indiana.

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