Empower 500 Navajo Families Without Electricity

by Elephant Energy
Lighting a Navajo Hogan
Lighting a Navajo Hogan

Eagle Energy volunteers travelled to Tuba City, Arizona in January to organize the first distribution of solar lighting and charging systems to elders on the Navajo Nation under our Solar Energy Empowerment Project, which is funded by Tucson Electric Power (via Grand Canyon Trust), the ABB Foundation, and your donations on Global Giving.  Through this project, solar lighting and charging systems will be provided to over 100 Navajo elders that have been identified by local Community Health Representatives and Public Health Nurses as having the greatest need, but no means to purchase these systems.  Many of the recipients live in traditional hogans (see photos) in remote areas of the Navajo Nation and suffer from health problems.  As a result of misguided government policies, these elders have been forced to live without electricity in their homes for their entire lives.  To ensure the sustainability of the project, health representatives will train and assist their patients with the solar lights during their periodic visits.  In addition, Eagle Energy is continuing its work with schools and shops in the area to ensure that a viable market for solar products will provide access to these life-changing technologies far into the future. Please support our work by donating on Global Giving, which will help us provide even more solar lighting/charging systems to elders in remote areas on the Navajo Nation.

Hogan on the Navajo Nation
Hogan on the Navajo Nation


Mike Dow and Pauline Whitesinger
Mike Dow and Pauline Whitesinger

What would you do if the government told you that if you didn't move, you would not be allowed to have electricity, and if your roof caved in, it would be illegal to fix it?  In effect, if you didn't pick up and move far from your current home, you would be forced to live in poverty.  For forty years, this was a reality for thousands of Native American families living in Northern Arizona in the "Bennett Freeze" area of the Navajo Nation. The "Freeze" was initially put in place 1966 to temporarily prevent the Hopi and Navajo tribes from taking advantage of one another during a land dispute.  After relegating thousands of families to third-world conditions for forty years, the Freeze was partially removed by an agreement between the Hopi and Navajo Tribes in 2005, and fully removed by the federal government in 2009.  While the Freeze is gone, its impacts remain, and few Americans have heard about this great injustice within our borders.  

Please take the time to view the powerful slideshow and testimonials in about the Bennett Freeze in the LA Times piece linked here: 


AND support Eagle Energy as we scale up in the Bennett Freeze area to help Native families replace kerosene and propane with solar lighting technologies in partnership with the University of Colorado, the Grand Canyon Trust, the University of Northern Arizona, and numerous local government and non-profit organizations.  Donate on Global Giving today or RSVP for our fundraising events on Tuesday, October 16th at 6:00 PM at BOTH the University of Denver Sturm College of Law in Denver by CLICKING HERE and at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder by CLICKING HERE.

Finally, enjoy Elephant Energy's 2011 Annual Report, available here, which provides a detailed overview of our work in Namibia (as Elephant Energy) and on the Navajo Nation (as Eagle Energy):


Monument Valley
Monument Valley


Energy Justice: The Musical
Energy Justice: The Musical

Efforts to transition the Navajo Nation from a reliance on dirty and unhealthy energy sources like kerosene, diesel and propane must start with education, and must be championed by local people.  As a result, in addition to making clean energy products available in local shops, Eagle Energy focuses on teaching kids about clean energy.  Our Solar Schools Pilot Project is currently evaluating strategies on the Navajo Nation to make clean energy technologies and educational materials available via school libraries and to develop fun, interactive programs to promote solar energy.

 This spring, EE has provided 200 solar-powered lights to school librarians in the Eastern Agency of the Navajo Nation in partnership with Nokero (www.nokero.com) and Teach for America New Mexico.  Students can now check out solar lights from their school along with their books, allowing them to read at night without the use of grid electricity, generators and kerosene (see photo below).

In addition, EE board member and CU Theatre Professor, Beth Osnes, recently travelled with Eagle Energy volunteers from the University of Colorado to Prewitt and Thoreau, New Mexico to push the Solar Schools Pilot Project forward.  The theatre students created a performance called “Energy Justice: The Musical” with the help of local students and staff members.  The musical was performed for 170 students and staff at Thoreau High School and for 370 students and staff at Baca/Dlo'Ay Azhi Community School in Prewitt, NM. Six high school students performed in the musical, which involved humor, audience interaction, narration, shadow puppets and songs (see photo below).

 As the school year winds down, we are busy evaluating our approach, and planning for a broad expansion into schools throughout the Navajo Nation next fall.  Please forward this e-mail on to at least one friend to help us spread the word about Eagle Energy's work to light the Navajo Nation, where over 18,000 American families still lack access to electricity.

Checking Out A Solar Light
Checking Out A Solar Light


Eagle Energy is gearing up for a new year on the Navajo Nation and we wanted to fill you in on our progress.  But before this update, we need to ask for a favor.  Immediately after you read this e-mail, please send the link for our GlobalGiving page (http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-navajo/) to at least one friend and ask them to watch our film and learn about how 18,000 families on the Navajo Nation IN THE USA live without access to electricity.  As Bobby Kennedy once said: “Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lots of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”  Reach out to a friend and help Eagle Energy educate the masses about this great American injustice and make waves on the Navajo Nation.

Thanks to your support, we have the resources to continue our work to promote the transition to clean solar energy and eliminate the use of kerosene, propane, and single-use batteries for household lighting on the Navajo Nation.  This spring, Eagle Energy will:

1. Distribute 30 solar lighting kits to school librarians and science teachers throughout the Navajo Nation. These kits will each contain six Nokero solar-powered light bulbs and materials to encourage kids to read and learn about solar energy.  See the PDF linked to this report to learn more.

2.  Establish four additional sales outlets in market centers and border towns around the Navajo Nation, and provide advertising/marketing support for these shops to enable access to small-scale solar products for additional people living without access to electricity.

3. Work intensively with partner schools in Thoreau and Baca chapters to develop curriculum to educate elementary and high school students about the benefits of solar energy.

4.  Continue to work with the tribal government and local community leaders to develop policies to promote access to clean energy technologies for people living without electricity.

Thanks again for your support.  Please reach out to a friend and inform them about Eagle Energy’s work to light the Navajo Nation TODAY!


Navajo Women with Solar-Powered Lights
Navajo Women with Solar-Powered Lights

The Eagle Energy team is just back from a trip to the Navajo Nation and we wanted to thank you for participating in our successful GlobalGiving Bonus Day fundraiser.  It was an amazing experience checking the GlobalGiving website throughout the day as we drove from Denver, Colorado to Haystack, New Mexico, watching support for Eagle Energy’s work grow with every mile.  While we didn't win an extra bonus, we raised over $4,000 to push our Eagle Energy project forward from 60+ donors.  This is a huge accomplishment in only 24 hours.  With this experience, we will win the next one!

I also wanted to give you a quick report about our trip to Navajoland.  On this trip, we stayed in the Hogan of our local facilitators Melton and Theresa Martinez (and the rest of the Martinez family) in Haystack, New Mexico.  We met with officials in the office of the President and Navajo Nation Council in Window Rock, Arizona to discuss ways to expand our efforts across the Navajo Nation, and worked with Dine CARE, our partner organization, to plan new outreach efforts.  We also delivered solar-powered lights to local schools, which will allow students without electricity to check out a book AND a light from their school library.  Finally, we conducted a focus group with Navajo women to discuss the best way to involve women in Eagle Energy’s work.  With your help, all of this good work will continue.

Thanks again for your support.  We will be in touch as we expand our reach throughout the Navajo Nation.

Solar Light Shop Display
Solar Light Shop Display



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Organization Information

Elephant Energy

Location: Denver, CO - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.elephantenergy.org
Elephant Energy
Project Leader:
Katie Murphy
Executive Director
Denver, CO United States

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