Women Bring Solar Energy to Rosebud Sioux


July 31, 2018
Cassandra and her mother Kim smile after completing the install.

In a rainy week in June, GRID partnered with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe for a We Build solar installation on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. We Build is a part of GRID Alternatives’ Women in Solar Program, working to build a diverse, equitable and inclusive solar industry by providing pathways to technical careers for women. Two teams of mother-daughter pairs volunteered to install a high performance 5.04kW-DC grid-tied solar PV system, with 16 panels donated by Jinko Solar.

Cassandra Valandra, a Rosebud, SD Native, helped organize and played a large leadership role on the build. She recently accepted a full-time, permanent position with the GRID Alternatives Tribal Program Team after completing a SolarCorps Fellowship. Her mother, Kim Thompson, who works at the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation (REDCO) in nearby Mission, SD, joined the Tribal Team on the install and was excited to see her daughter’s work in person and enjoyed the experience. “It was fun. I'll do it again in Rosebud.”

Marisa and Arissa embrace in front of the solar PV system.
Marisa and Arissa Good Shield joined the Tribal Program team for the install as well. Despite flash flood conditions and an hour drive to the installation site, the Good Shields showed up and worked hard, learning all about how solar energy works and how to install a PV system. Marisa said that they recently moved to the county where there is no power, and have “always been fascinated with solar energy.” Prior to installing with GRID, the Good Shields attended a solar oven training, learning even more ways to harness the power of the sun.

Strong women raise strong daughters. The women of Rosebud, South Dakota are powerful and resilient, and demonstrated their commitment not only to renewable energy, but to their community.

Special thanks to All Points North Foundation for providing funding for this project and their continued support of GRID’s tribal work.