The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council has approved the leasing of more than 4,000 acres of tribal trust land in Oklahoma to wind farm developer PNE Wind.
Cherokee Nation – the federally recognized government of the Cherokee people – says the land is located near the former Chilocco Indian School site, which operated from 1884 to 1980 in Kay County.
According to the tribe, the lease agreement will bring an additional $1 million per year, on average, to tribal programs and services. For more than a decade, the tribe says it has been studying the feasibility of a wind farm at Chilocco and its potential impact on the site.
“This is a great step toward advancing clean energy and moving away from coal-fired power. This is what it means to be stewards of our land,” commented Bill John Baker, Cherokee Nation’s principal chief.
The Chilocco site will continue to be leased for livestock ranching purposes. PNE Wind is also obligated to restore the land to its present condition should the company cease operations.
“We have a responsibility to explore all avenues of clean, renewable energy in order to leave our land and environment in better shape than we inherited it,” said Keith Austin, tribal councilor. “Through this partnership with a well respected company, the Cherokee Nation is embracing that calling and working diligently to leave our land, air and water in better circumstances for future generations.”