The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) announced the winners of its 2010 Innovation Awards recently. One of the well-deserving turned out to be Lakota Solar Enterprises, a renewable energy company owned entirely by Native Americans. Jeanne of CalFinder Solar reports:

Lakota Solar Enterprises, an extension of Native American non-profit group Trees, Water & People (TWP), won the prize for its Great Plains Tribal Communities initiative, the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center, or RCREC, an educational and training facility where individuals from indigenous tribes across America can get hands-on training in renewable energy technologies, specifically solar panels.

The RCREC is so far responsible for training 38 people from the Rosebud Sioux, Spirit Lake Dakota, and Cheyenne River (Sioux) tribes, who, after 10 days of classroom training, returned to their reservations equipped with Solar Technician I certificates and installed supplemental solar heating systems in the homes of tribal families.

The sun (or “wi”) is an integral part of Sioux, or Lakota, culture. So, it is no surprise they have taken to solar energy so quickly and enthusiastically. Congrats to Lakota Solar Enterprises on its IREC award.

The Lakota are not the only Native Americans going solar, however. In January, I wrote about the Jemez Pueblo tribe’s efforts in New Mexico to build the first utility-scale solar power plant on tribal land. The tribe is looking to generate $25 million from this project. Hopefully, other Native American tribes are looking into and capitalizing on solar energy as well.

Photo Credit: obbino via flickr under a CC license. More: solar energy facts.