Vaughn Vargas

Cheyenne River Lakota

Fellowship Goal: To develop “desktop” studies and framework that will help inform renewable energy planning and implementation in a way that tribes/tribal staff understand.

Vaughn Vargas is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (Siha Sipa Band). His great grandfather was James Holy Eagle Sr. Vaughn grew up in Rapid City, SD and started his academic career at Oglala Lakota College in 2011. He was OLC’s 2013 Student of the Year, Mr. American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), SD NASA Space Grant Consortium Scholar, among other accomplishments. He earned a Master of Liberal Arts in Management from Harvard University and has a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SDSMT).

Vaughn worked in the SDSMT Engineering Projects in Community Service Program where he advised primarily non-native engineering students who completed engineering projects in tribal communities (Tiny houses, green houses, wind farm feasibility, E.M.S.). He also served in the Department of Interior, Division of Energy and Mineral Development – Branch of Renewable and Distributed Energy. He has since moved on to serve Tribes directly in economic, energy, and enterprise development. The TSAF – Tribal Energy Innovators Fellowship will be used to obtain engineering licensure, project management certification, energy engineering certifications, and training and mentoring in energy regulations (e.g. WAPA, NERC, FERC). 

  • Fellowship Objectives: To help tribes navigate existing funding opportunities, and streamline energy and utility policies applicable to tribes. 
  • Fellowship Activities: To develop knowledge, credentials, and training through various energy management and licensure programs. Target community: Pine Ridge, SD.