From the Tipi to the Tesla

Activist Winona LaDuke on environmental justice and foregoing unclean technology.


Renowned environmental and Native rights activist Winona LaDuke spoke Sunday at the 34th annual meeting for the Western Colorado Congress, a group committed to engaging Western Slope communities in environmental, economic and social justice issues. LaDuke is Ojibwe, from the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. At Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction, she spoke to an attentive audience about the need for a paradigm shift away from what she called “extreme extraction” — i.e. our society’s “addiction to fossil fuels” — towards economic self-reliance and environmental and spiritual equilibrium.

Activist Winona LaDuke, photo courtesy Winona LaDuke.

In the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections, LaDuke was the vice-presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket, headed by Ralph Nader. She’s a longtime activist (though she prefers “responsible human” as an identifier), was named “Woman of the Year” by Ms. Magazine in 1997 and, in 2007, was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. This April, to show opposition to the proposed Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline, which would carry fracked oil from North Dakota’s Bakken fields through watersheds in northern Minnesota, LaDuke organized a horseback ride from the White Earth Reservation to Washington, D.C. With tribal members and a group of Nebraska ranchers — calling themselves the Cowboys and Indians Alliance— she arrived in the capital on Earth Day for a protest of Canadian tar sands.

Above is an edited interview LaDuke gave to High Country News editorial intern Wyatt Orme following her talk. 

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