EPA Honors Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Director for Environmental Stewardship

March 13, 2013

Stan Ellison, who has administered land and natural resources for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for nearly 20 years, was recognized for his love of Mother Earth, fittingly, on Valentine’s Day, when he received a major award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

On February 14 Ellison received the agency’s 2012 Taimi Lynne Hoag Award for Environmental Stewardship from EPA Region 5. It was given at the annual Tribal Environmental Program Management Conference, held in conjunction with the Region 5 Tribal Operations Committee Tribal Caucus meeting in Chicago.

“We are proud of Stan for helping us preserve and protect the land on our reservation for these many years,” said Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Chairman Charlie Vig in a tribal statement. “He has been involved in many innovative programs, including our Koda Energy facility, installation of our wind turbine, and our Organics Recycling Facility.”

Koda Energy, LLC generates heat and power by burning agricultural byproducts to create steam. The Organics Recycling Facility is a massive composting project that makes fertilizer. The tribe said it’s all in line with paving the way for future generations.

Planning for the Seventh Generation is a must, “to make sure that resources will be available in the future to sustain life for seven generations to come,” according to the tribe’s land and resources web page. “Conserving and protecting the Earth today ensures that there will be food, trees, natural areas, traditional wild foods and medicines, cultural resources, and open spaces in the environment for coming generations to not only survive but also to thrive. A staff of biologists, water resource specialists, technicians, managers, and others in the land and natural resources, public works, and cultural resources departments fulfill that mission.”

Ellison, an attorney and geologist who also served in the U.S. Army, credited many with his achievement.

“Thank you all for the honor, but in actuality, nearly anything attributed to my actions is really the result of the vision and leadership provided by the Shakopee Sioux Community Business Council and General Council, and the cooperative efforts of tribal leaders and environmental staff throughout the Region 5 tribes,” Ellison said in a statement accepting his award, tipping his hat to those who had helped him build the program. “Twenty years ago, I was working with a small nucleus of tribal environmental staff that has grown into large, competent and active group of professionals. These people and the tribes they work for are the real leaders in environmental action in Indian Country. I thank all of you, and the staff of the agency, for your efforts.”

Ellison added that he was just doing what comes naturally to his people.

“Tribes were here before the United States; against all odds they managed to survive to today, and they are not going away,” Ellison said in conclusion. “It is incumbent on all of us to protect the resources that provide sustenance, both physical and spiritual, to Indian people and, in fact to all people.”

Vig echoed those sentiments.

“All of the land on this continent was Indian land originally, and our connection to it is part of what makes us Indian,” Vig said in the tribe’s statement. “We’re not going anywhere; this land is our home. We’ve been its caretakers for years and will continue to preserve and protect it for future generations.”