KILI celebrates 25 years and wind turbine dedication
PORCUPINE BUTTE- On July 31, KILI Radio 90.1 of Porcupine, had planned to celebrate the future of renewable energy with the launch of their new wind turbine at the butte and celebrate their 25th anniversary on July 31.
The station was to begin operating under its own wind power after two years of planning but a transformer did not arrive delaying the startup of the turbine for several weeks.
With a mobile solar panel unit providing all power for celebration event at the foot of the butte, about 100 people enjoyed music, food, and presentations, including Venezuela Vice Minister Aloha Nunez, who visited area reservations to observe firsthand how tribal members benefited from money for heating provided by Venezuela's national oil company, CITGO.
Keith Secola, of Indian Cars fame, headlined the music on a mobile stage set up in front of an arbor below Porcupine Butte. Bam Brewer, Scottie Clifford and Will Peters and Little John shared their music with the enthusiastic crowd.
KILI station manager Melanie Janis kicked off the dedication along with members of the Intertribal Council On Utility Policy, which was formed in 1994 to provide a forum for utility issues discussion from regulatory and economic perspectives. The COUP council has representatives from ten tribes located in a three state area in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Nebraska.
The tribes include the Cheyenne River; Flandreau Santee; Lower Brule; Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara; Omaha; Rosebud; Sisseton; Spirit Lake; Pine Ridge and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribes, and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Telephone Authority. In 2005 COUP acquired a majority interest in
NativeEnergy on behalf of its members and gave COUP tribes direct access to the renewable power retail market and the renewable energy credits or RECS that their wind farms will generate.
COUP President Pat Spears said, "Wind power is a way to protect the earth and ensure a sustainable future for the people. The KILI wind tower as well as solar power was part of KILI's original plan. Spears was joined by his sons, movie and television actors Eddie and Michael Spears, both interns with COUP. Eddie Spears explained, "Wind power benefits the earth and also creates jobs for our youth involving installing, collecting data, and environmental studies." Winona LaDuke, an Anishinaabe from the White Earth reservation and executive director of Honor the Earth, a nonprofit group that supports environmental activism and sustainability in Native communities said, "Wind energy is the fastest growing energy source in the world, and Native communities have an excellent potential to be a part of that trend. We see the KILI wind turbine as a flagship project, a springboard for a broad, tribal renewable energy initiative."
Sen. Tim Johnson, D-SD. entered a statement in the Congressional Record highlighting the station's milestone.
"KILI Radio has served as the source for news and information on the Pine Ridge Reservation for a quarter century. I have always enjoyed working with Tom Casey and all the other people who keep the station on the air and serving the Lakota people. I congratulate them on their continued commitment to their community," Johnson said.
"For 25 years, this radio station has served as the voice of the Lakota Nation. It serves as an important communications tool for members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe."
"It also serves as a vital tool to inform people about community meetings, educational opportunities, danger prevention activities and others. KILI Radio also plays a crucial role in maintaining the Lakota Language on the reservation, with its DJs and other programming hosts often speaking in Lakota or with Lakota speaking guests. The station's coverage of sporting events is exceptionally popular with KILI listeners and is one of the station's top-ranked areas of programming."
"Without its existence, lives may have been lost to emergency situations it reported over the airwaves. Lakota language preservation efforts would also have languished.
applaud KILI Radio for working tirelessly to preserve the Lakota language and culture while also promoting, educating, and entertaining listeners with the good news of Lakota youth, elders and entrepreneurs.
"Whether it is coverage of basketball tournaments, conferences on issues of importance to the Lakota people, or holding politicians' feet to the fire, KILI Radio is a way of life for the Pine Ridge community."