IEN Gifts Solar Unit to Tonatierra

In keeping with IEN’s principles of an Indigenous Just Transition and its history of empowering and supporting Indigenous communities within its network, IEN audio and solar technician Govinda Dalton recently delivered a mobile solar panel system to Tonatierra, a longtime network partner of ours.

Tonatierra Nahuacalli is the cultural embassy of the organization, in Phoenix, AZ, where the organization’s colorful facility houses holistic Indigenous community development initiatives in education, economic development, food, culture, and art in accordance with its principles of Community Ecology and self-determination.

The Nahuacalli was bustling with positive energy and activities as Dalton pulled the solar trailer into the complex where elders and youth maintain a traditional community garden growing heirloom corn or maize, a farm worker food distribution program, cultural activities like Danza Azteca and ceremonials, and art projects in the form of historic murals painted by community artists on the concrete walls surrounding the facility. The organization is also dealing with grief and loss with the recent passing of a key founding member, Tupac Enrique Acosta.

“Tupac and the Tonatierra folks are La Familia,” IEN Exec. Dir. Tom Goldtooth said. “It’s a long, close history between our organizations.”

The Calpolli, or community, that makes up Tonatierra are carrying on in the ways the founders taught them, said Evie Reyes Aguirre, a program coordinator and community organizer for the organization. The nonprofit with a legal infrastructure is also a community of extended family organized in kinship systems built around traditional obligations of respect for the land, inclusiveness, complementarity and self-discipline, the Calpolli identifies the basic unit of  community identity in Mexica culture. 

“Since its beginning, Tonatierra has advocated for migratory and farm workers to ensure rights are respected. We advocate for all Indigenous migratory workers, whether they are able to legally work here or not,” she said.”Tonatierra’s focus is directly on Indigenous Peoples and how they’re affected.”

She said much of Tonatierra’s work is to provide a bridge between Indigenous Nations in the Global North and South and when possible, bring them together. In doing so, many discover they are fighting the same extractive industries that have caused them to be displaced or have left their territories in destruction or polluted.

“We help them to strategize, build strong coalitions, or tell their stories at UN venues, helping them with interventions. But, our main work is before the (UN) Permanent Forum when we hold our caucus meetings and Indigenous Peoples from all over the world come together and talk about issues that are affecting them, finding out they’re having similar issues, even as far apart as Africa and the South Pacific,” she explained. 

Evie Reyes Aguirre expressed deep gratitude to IEN leadership for the mobile solar unit and for Goldtooth’s continued encouragement. She said Tonatierra Calpolli ultimately hopes to power the entire facility with solar energy. “We’re in Arizona. It’s always sunny,” she said. Solar makes sense.”

The mobile solar panel system, or solar trailer, was made available to IEN by Footprint Project, a nonprofit organization that provides solar power systems available to communities undergoing crises due to climate chaos and other disasters and helps first responder teams to cut fossil fuels, carbon emissions, and costs by deploying mobile solar energy in disaster field operations.

The Footprint Project also assists the industry in repurposing commercial solar equipment, which is where Dalton’s mechanical and technical skills come in handy.

“The unit was not in working order when we received it,” Dalton said.”I had to reconfigure all the parts into a working unit before it could be deployed.” 

Dalton said IEN hopes to receive more mobile solar systems in the future to distribute to Indigenous communities and help them build the autonomous capacity to manage their own community-led energy source.



Indigenous Rising Radio

Loading …