You are here
Home > Education > IEI head named to MIT Indigenous fellowship

IEI head named to MIT Indigenous fellowship

Chéri Smith, the founder and CEO of the Native-led nonprofit Indigenized Energy Initiative (IEI), has been named to the 2022 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) “Solve Indigenous Communities Fellowship.” Smith is a descendant of the Mi’Kmaq Tribe, a First Nations people.

IEI works with tribal communities on energy sovereignty projects. Solve is an MIT initiative with a similar mission – to drive innovation that considers technology and traditional Indigenous knowledge for projects in tribal communities.

Chéri Smith (IEI)

“Chéri Smith was selected because she and her team are taking an inclusive, systems-based approach to leveraging the power of clean energy to address significant climate, economic, and energy challenges faced by Native American communities,” Aaron Slater, senior officer of Indigenous Communities for MIT Solve, said in an Oct. 11 news release.

Smith originally founded IEI as the Covenant Solar Initiative in 2016, in response to tribes that were resisting fossil fuels and had a desire to explore renewable energy projects on tribal lands.

“This fellowship represents a watershed moment, when a world-class technical institution like MIT has recognized the critical need for the work we are doing supporting tribes in their efforts to move away from extractive and exploitative fossil fueled energy in a self-determined way,” Smith said in the release.

More than $2 million in funding was awarded to the 2022 Solve teams and Indigenous Communities Fellows, the release said.

“Our goal is to secure an endowment for the initiative, which would allow the focus to be solely on its critical mission of building the capacity of tribes to achieve energy independence in the shortest amount of time,” Smith added.

For more information, go to or click here.