Native American Mining and Energy Sovereignty Initiative

A new Payne Institute Initiative at the Colorado School of Mines supporting the self-determination of tribal communities in energy and mining.

“The Tribe’s inherent right to exercise its sovereignty, deciding to develop reservation resources to benefit the people and earth in which it serves is powerful beyond measure. I am in full support of the Native American Mining and Energy Sovereignty Initiative and its efforts in Native American Mining and Energy education.”

Shane Seibel
Executive Director
Southern Ute Growth Fund

MISSION

The Native American Mining and Energy Sovereignty (NAMES) Initiative is part of the Payne Institute for Public Policy at the Colorado School of Mines, one of the world’s foremost universities of mineral and energy engineering. The Initiative was established to be a strong supporter of tribal communities, an effective convener to industry and a thought leader in the national conversation on new critical mineral and energy development in the western U.S. The Initiative will empower tribal communities through knowledge and collaboration to find financial success in the energy transition while gaining energy security and sovereignty for their people.

GOALS

We have several short, medium, and long-term goals for the Initiative and its development and hopefully will lead to its growth and importance in Indian Country.

Development of a Fund to support Native American students, their admission, retention, development, and graduation at the undergraduate and graduate levels in majors relating to Energy and Minerals.

Development of a Fund to support Research and Development in Energy and Minerals relating and of interest to Tribes, in conjunction with Tribes, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Institutions of Higher Learning, National Laboratories, and Private Research Organizations.

Development of Native American STEM activities, curriculum, and programs, especially those related to Energy and Minerals.

Development of an entity/process to provide technical assistance and capacity building services in the areas of Energy and Minerals to Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and Tribal Communities.

EMPOWERING WITH KNOWLEDGE

The Initiative will offer a spectrum of programs that leverage Mines resources to support mutual learning and information sharing with our tribal partners. Our plan includes:

• A tribal scholarship program
• Teaching and research fellowships for graduate students and faculty
• Offering situational analyses and insights of key technical issues
• A CSM President’s Advisory Council on Native American Affairs

EMPOWERING THROUGH COLLABORATION

The NAMES Initiative offers a fresh collaborative approach, supported by novel lines of communication, to take on the challenges of mineral and energy development in Indian Country. Working with tribal governments, reservation communities, industry leaders and government agencies, NAMES offers our tribal partners unprecedented information access through a variety of collaborative events, including:

• Large symposiums on broad tribal and industry subjects
• Single-topic focused workshops
• Small group facilitated stakeholder meetings

GOVERNANCE

Initially, each collaborator, NTEA and Payne, will supply one member each to a Board of Directors (Board). Once the Board is seated and functioning, it shall work on developing a larger Board at a time that it chooses. Also, a Board of Advisors (Advisors) will be developed by the Board made up of representatives from initially each of the Tribes of Colorado and then other Tribes as the Board decides from time to time.

COMMUNICATION

The collaborators, NTEA and Payne, agree to communicate in a timely manner and via phone, electronic mail, virtually, or in person.

PARTNER ENGAGEMENT AND SUPPORT

The NAMES Initiative is only as strong as the engagement and support of our tribal, industry and government partners.  This growing community of NAMES Initiative partners include:

The National Tribal Energy Association (NTEA)

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe

Ivanhoe Electric

Resolution Copper

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

BHP

IN THE NEWS

Bending Bureaucracy Towards Tribal Sovereignty 5/20/2024

Bending Bureaucracy Towards Tribal Sovereignty

W. Gregory Guedel, Payne Institute NAMES Program Manager Rick Tallman, Fellow Richard Luarkie, and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how sovereign Native American Tribes and their communities can play a pivotal and positive role in the future of America’s twin pursuits of energy security and effectively addressing climate change. Native American lands are extraordinarily rich with energy resources.  Still, significant Tribal energy development efforts remain stymied.  While positive efforts are emerging across the government from the Department of Energy to Department of Interior, there is a need to reform administrative processes, and ensure some level of stability in investing and supporting Indian Country.   May 20, 2024.

Ivanhoe Electric Announces Multi-Year Sponsorship with the Native American Mining and Energy Sovereignty Initiative (NAMES) through Colorado School of Mines 5/16/2024

Ivanhoe Electric Announces Multi-Year Sponsorship with the Native American Mining and Energy Sovereignty Initiative (NAMES) through Colorado School of Mines

Ivanhoe Electric Inc. is pleased to announce its multi-year commitment for a $150,000 contribution to the Native American Mining and Energy Sovereignty Initiative (“NAMES”), part of the Payne Institute for Public Policy at Colorado School of Mines (“Mines”), one of the world’s foremost universities of mineral and energy engineering.  Through this partnership, Ivanhoe Electric joins NAMES in its mission to empower Tribal communities by encouraging and financially supporting educational opportunities in the fields of energy and natural resources.  May 16, 2024.

Boom goes uranium in Utah — again 4/7/2024

Boom goes uranium in Utah — again

Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange contributes to this article about the latest concerns of the La Sal Complex, a Uranium mine 32 miles southeast of Moab.  The mine has been opened and closed and opened again over the years. The price of uranium has increased recently, and so has uranium production in Utah. The mining and processing of uranium have ignited old concerns.  April 7, 2024.

Nuclear Power is Tribal Power 3/19/2024

Nuclear Power is Tribal Power

Payne Institute Native American Mining and Energy Sovereignty (NAMES) Initiative Program Manager Rick Tallman, Fellow Richard Luarkie and Director Morgan D. Bazilian write about how with the newly found bipartisan political will for American nuclear power, the U.S. is poised for a uranium mining boom once again. As the inevitable debate ensues, what is often not appreciated is the essential need to gain support from our Native American communities from the very start and through the developments.  March 19, 2024.

Changing the relationship between mining and Native American Tribes 3/11/2024

Changing the relationship between mining and Native American Tribes

Payne Institute Native American Mining and Energy Sovereignty (NAMES) Initiative Program Manager Rick Tallman, Director Morgan Bazilian and Daniel Cardenas write about how the Native American Tribes stand to benefit greatly from mining and processing the critical minerals needed to drive the energy transition in the United States — but only if we acknowledge the sordid history of mining on tribal lands and properly remediate legacy issues while forging a new approach that is transparent, fair and centered on Tribal sovereignty. March 11, 2024.

Ignoring Indigenous rights is making the green transition more expensive 2/2/2024

Ignoring Indigenous rights is making the green transition more expensive

Payne Institute Native American Mining and Energy Sovereignty (NAMES) Initiative Program Manager Rick Tallman contributes to this article about how as more companies look to build wind and solar farms or mine minerals for renewable energy, failing to recognize Indigenous sovereignty could make the clean energy transition a lot more expensive and much farther away.  February 2, 2024.

First Uranium Mines to Dig in the US in Eight Years Begin Operations Near Grand Canyon 1/15/2024

First Uranium Mines to Dig in the US in Eight Years Begin Operations Near Grand Canyon

Payne Institute Faculty Fellow Ian Lange contributes to this article about the push for more nuclear energy and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  How it has spiked uranium prices, leading mines for the element to begin operating again in the U.S. despite long-term environmental and health impacts. January 15, 2024.

Native American Energy Sovereignty is key to American Energy Security 11/9/2023

Native American Energy Sovereignty is key to American Energy Security

Payne Institute Native American Mining and Energy Sovereignty (NAMES) Initiative Program Manager Rick Tallman, Daniel Cardenas, and Director Morgan Bazilian write about how as the energy transition plays out across the United States, tribal communities see both a tremendous opportunity and a direct threat to their sovereignty. The immense natural resources of tribal lands will almost certainly be needed to help secure the future of American energy security. At the same time, a history of energy exploitation has left reservation communities with systemic problems and unmet needs that energy policy makers, regulators and industry leaders must acknowledge, understand, and address in any go-forward plans.  November 9, 2023.

A Pathway to Responsible Mining in Indian Country 11/09/2023

A Pathway to Responsible Mining in Indian Country

Payne Institute Program Managers Rick Tallman and Brad Handler, Director Morgan Bazilian and Daniel Cardenas write about how the demand for minerals critical to both the energy transition and U.S. national security is growing rapidly. At the same time, the reliability of the global supply chain is being challenged by geopolitical events. The result is a growing call to bring more mining for these critical minerals back to the United States, where the vast majority of critical mineral reserves are located on or within 35 miles of Native American reservations.  November 9, 2023.

Tribal Landscapes and the Energy Transition: Approaches to Supporting Renewable Infrastructure Projects in Indigenous Communities 3/10/2021

Tribal Landscapes and the Energy Transition: Approaches to Supporting Renewable Infrastructure Projects in Indigenous Communities

Payne Student Scholar Jocelyn Johnson writes about how renewable energy will be a crucial part of the United States’ response to climate change. Tribal lands are considered ideal locations for renewable infrastructure projects, but tribes cannot realize the full potential power generation on these lands without proper funding and educational opportunities, in addition to the willingness of the U.S. government and utility companies to relinquish some of their power.  This report explores the historical context of energy production on Indigenous lands and discusses how the United States can lead the way to recognizing tribal sovereignty and begin healing historic wounds inflicted by the fossil fuel industry during the energy transition.  March 10, 2021.   

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For more information about the Initiative for Native American Mining and Energy Sovereignty Research Area at the Payne Institute for Public Policy, please contact our Deputy Director, Greg Clough, at gclough@mines.edu.