Mille Lacs Chief Executive Benjamin to open tribal energy conference

17 April 2015

Mille Lacs Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin will welcome tribal representatives from around the country to one of her tribe’s two downtown St. Paul hotels on Monday, May 27, for a groundbreaking “Tribal Energy Summit” offered by the nation’s first 100-percent tribally owned conference and event company. The 3-day conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza Riverfront on Kellogg Boulevard.

The conference agenda will feature a number of tribal energy projects, including one from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC). Stan Ellison, SMSC Director of Land and Natural Resources, will present a case study of Koda Energy, the biomass project developed by the tribe and a private sector partner in Shakopee, Minnesota.

The Tribal Energy Summit is produced by Tekamuk Training and Events, a wholly owned enterprise of the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians. Although the Mesa Grande Band is based in northeastern San Diego County in California, the company offers educational and training events at tribal venues throughout the U.S.

Conference director Heidi Buss said the Tribal Energy Summit is designed to introduce attendees to the energy market, educate them on issues related to energy development, and help them begin the process of creating an energy plan for their own tribes. It is the first in a three-part energy series that will take tribes from the earliest stages of energy planning to advanced content on deal structuring, financing, negotiation of power purchase agreements, and regulatory issues. The second and third events will be held in the fall of 2015 at tribal venues in New Mexico and California, respectively.