In preparation for her talk here at SUNY Oswego, I recently had the pleasure of reading Winona LaDuke’s novel, The Winona LaDuke Chronicles: Stories from the Front Lines in the Battle for Environmental Justice. In this book, LaDuke compiled many of her stories about her life as an activist, economist, and Native American. She states, “In the North American first world, tribal communities and First Nations struggle just to survive. In our resilience and beauty, these stories are inspired.”
This book is essentially a collection of current and inspirational stories of Indigenous communities from Northern Canada to the heart of the Navajo Nation. Chronicles is a book that has literally and figuratively risen from the ashes. She began writing it after her house burned to the ground. It is an accounting of Winona’s personal path toward recovery through spirituality, activism, and solidarity. Her book was absolutely inspiring and unforgettable. She is a Harvard graduate, an avid protester and in 1996 and 2000, LaDuke even ran as the vice-presidential candidate with Ralph Nader on the Green Party ticket.
It was meeting her in person, however, that solidified my utmost admiration for Winona LaDuke. I got to hear some of the stories in person, straight from the source. Some of the stories that stuck with me were the stories involving water protectors. Winona LaDuke has been a water protector for years, defending her land and the land of others. She shared her recollection of being shot at with rubber bullets, standing in the freezing rivers, being pepper sprayed, etc. I knew that all of this was going on because of the few news stories, but it was different hearing about it first hand. I could tell she still had a lot of emotion toward the subject.
Still, LaDuke’s talk was not all negative. In this political climate, it is encouraging to see that someone who has seen so many bad things happen still has hope for redemption. She believes that, even though we have all taken part in destroying our planet, we can still recover and make up for at least most of the damage. She is confident that the future generation will be the generation that will finally perfect renewable resources and start mending the holes left by prior generations. If you did not get the chance to attend her talk, I would 100% recommend ordering one of her books and/or checking out this website where you can learn more about the issues she focuses on and find out how to contribute.
Written by Sarah Pasquarelli