Last Friday marked a modest yet significant step forward for the Red Lake Nation, thanks to the Native Sun Community Power Development. This Native-led nonprofit, dedicated to promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy, quietly handed over five Ford F-150 Lightnings and four Volkswagen ID.4s to the community. This gesture is part of their Electric Nation project, a thoughtful initiative supported by the United States Department of Energy to enhance access to electric vehicles (EVs) and charging stations in Native communities.

Native Sun’s approach is grounded in education, workforce training, and practical demonstrations, aiming for a gentle yet effective transition to equitable energy solutions. The Electric Nation project embodies this ethos, offering advanced transportation options and the promise of clean, affordable mobility that brings economic and environmental benefits.

The choice of Red Lake Nation for this initiative was deliberate. By providing these EVs, Native Sun hopes the community can reinvest the savings from these vehicles back into local needs. Additionally, there’s a genuine interest in understanding how these EVs perform in colder climates, a practical concern for many.

Native Sun’s Executive Director, Robert Blake, shared, “We were keen on real-world testing. We thought the Red Lake Nation would be an ideal place for this. These vehicles will be used daily, and the data collected will be shared on the Department of Energy website. This way, we can all learn how these vehicles fare in the colder conditions of northern Minnesota.”

The broader vision of Electric Nation is to quietly but effectively connect tribes across the Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, through an EV network. It’s a humble endeavor, not just about introducing new technology, but about fostering connections and gently nudging towards a more sustainable future.