New address: 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210-1409.
General Assembly 2010 Event 4013
Winona LaDuke is a Native American activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer. In 1996 and 2000, she ran for vice president as the nominee of the United States Green Party, on a ticket headed by Ralph Nader. An Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg, LaDuke lives and works on the White Earth Reservations.
As Program Director of the Honor the Earth Fund, she works on a national level to advocate, raise public support, and create funding for frontline native environmental groups. She also works as Founding Director for White Earth Land Recovery Project.
In 1994, Winona was nominated by Time magazine as one of America's fifty most promising leaders under forty years of age. She has been awarded the Thomas Merton Award in 1996, the BIHA Community Service Award in 1997, the Ann Bancroft Award for Women's Leadership Fellowship, and the Reebok Human Rights Award, with which she began the White Earth Land Recovery Project.
A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, Winona has written extensively on Native American and Environmental issues. She is a former board member of Greenpeace USA and serves as co-chair of the Indigenous Women's Network. In 1998, Ms. Magazine named her Woman of the Year for her work with Honor the Earth.
Read the report from the UU World General Assembly Blog: LaDuke Urges Environmental Action in Ware Lecture.
Rev. Peter Morales: And welcome to tonight's Ware Lecture. This is a tradition that began in 1922, and the lecture's been delivered by such noted individuals as Linus Pauling, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mary Oliver. Tonight we welcome a renowned Minnesotan, who lives with her family on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.
Winona LaDuke is an internationally acclaimed author, orator, and activist. She's a graduate of Harvard and Antioch, with advanced degrees in rural economic development. She's devoted her life to protecting the lands and lifeways of native communities. In 1994 Time magazine named her one of America's 50 most promising leaders under 40 years of age. And in 1997 she was named Ms. Magazine's Woman of the Year. Other honors include the prestigious International Slow Food Award for working to protect wild rice and local biodiversity. Winona LaDuke also served as Ralph Nader's vice presidential running mate on the Green Party ticket in the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections.
In addition to numerous articles, she's the author of several books, including Last Standing Woman and All Our Relations. Her most recent book is Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming. And I'll add that Winona will be doing a book signing outside of Plenary Hall here. The staff has asked me to ask you please not to greet and mob her on the way out there. Let her actually get outside. And I think she's going to have an escort of thugs, so you better do it.
Winona is also the founding director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, a reservation-based nonprofit devoted to restoring the land base and culture of the White Earth Anishinaabeg Indian tribe. She helped found Honor the Earth in 1993, and has served in a leadership position since the organization's inception.
So please join me in giving a warm welcome to Winona LaDuke.
Thank you. And I apologize. [INAUDIBLE]
Winona Laduke: Hello there.
Winona Laduke: Or I mean, as we say in our language, Aaniin Ninda-waymuganitoog -- hello my relatives. Thank you very much for the honor of being here. I have enjoyed my time with you. And I also want to thank the VEATCH Committee and the New Unitarians for their many years of support for our work at the White Earth Land Recovery Project and Honor the Earth. So thank you, again.
A couple of personal notes. I hope that none of you will take this wrong, but I was really happy to see Ghana beat the US today at the World Cup. Just a personal thing. Sometimes I like to see the US on a world stage get its butt kicked.
And for any of you who were in the elevator with my son and nephew -- do you want to raise your arms -- when they punched the 26 buttons, my apologies.
I want to talk to you about being here -- omaa akiing. This is our land here. This picture you see is our traditional art form, which describes our land and our people that are here. It's very important to us, because what I want to talk about is our opportunity to be omaa akiing, here on this land -- our opportunity to do the right thing. We are the people that can keep our mother from baking. We are the people that can stop them from knocking off the top of big mountains. We are the people that can stop them from rebooting the nuclear industry. We are the people that can do the right thing, and what a great spiritual opportunity that is. So let us be those people. Let us be courageous.
I wanted to tell you a little bit about myself. These drawings are our Midewin drawings. I know that you are Unitarians. I am a member of our Midewin society, from our White Earth Anishinaabeg people. These are pictographs that are pretty darn old. Our society, our Midewin teachings, are about maybe 6,000 or 7,000 years old, omaa akiing -- here on this land. The language that is familiar to this territory is our language. The prayers and the songs are familiar to our mother, to our lakes, to our trees, to our rocks. And I am very proud to be one of those who tries to keep that language alive. To be one of those who tries to continue.
And as I stand here in front of all of you -- of which there are quite a few, I see -- I ask you to consider the process of decolonizing yourselves. It is a jackhammer, this American industrial civilization. It is deafening. It has done much to all of us, and we have become people who live here. And the question, I think, that should be asked and needs to be asked of each of us is how much and how brave we are in our ability to deconstruct some of the paradigms which we have perhaps embraced. If we are able to liberate our minds to be the people that are going to be here on this land. The people who are going to protect our mother, and care for ourselves.
So let me tell you a little bit about this land. Now would be the time for the next slide. My guys here and I worked this out. There is a Place Where The Thunder Beings Rest in their Migration from West to East. There is a place known as The Place Where the Kachinas and the Spirits Speak to the Apache People. A place known as the Falls of a Woman's Hair. These are sacred lands, and sacred places to our peoples. I am here to suggest that the holy land is actually here.
What if we deconstructed how we know these places? Instead of being called "The Place Where the Thunder Beings Rest in their Migration from West to East", or Animikii-wajiw -- up by the City of Thunder Bay. Thunder Mountain, it is called, in English translation from Ojibwe. It is known, instead, as Mount McKay. The place that the Apache people go for their prayers is known not by its traditional name, but instead as Mount Graham. This illustrates to me one of the problems I have with America, which is the naming of large mountains after small men.
Now anyone who knows me knows that I have nothing against men of any size. I have raised quite a few of them, I will continue to. But what I have is a problem with the construct of naming and renaming. The idea that someone got it in their heads that we could take something as immortal as a mountain and name it after something as puny and mortal as a human. And then what that does to our consciousness as that is repeated generation after generation after generation. It changes how we relate to land. So whether it is Animikii-wajiw -- Thunder Mountain. Or it is Celilo Falls -- the Falls of a Woman's Hair that were inundated or drowned in the Dalles Dam project on the Columbia River. It is important to remember that these are sacred places that require us as humans to recognize them. And in that process we are able to liberate ourselves, because indeed our earth is alive. It is not commodified, it is not named and planted with a flag and claimed. It is a living and spiritual being. It is indeed possible to deconstruct some of that colonialism.
So for instance, the slide you'll see here is Haida Gwaii. How many of you have ever heard of Haida Gwaii? About two weeks ago the Canadian government liberated Haida Gwaii. It was previously called Queen Charlotte Island. It was renamed -- Haida Gwaii.
That is a place that probably should never have been named after one queen. And that is a worldwide story. For instance, that big rock in Australia used to be called Ayers Rock. I don't know who the Ayers guy was, but if you go to Australia now that is called Uluru, which is their name for it in their language. Which has more power, and reflects something that is tens of thousands of years old. And it is even possible to liberate entire countries. You know that Rhodes guy that they named the Rhodes scholarship after, he didn't even get a rock named after him -- he got a country named after him. That was Rhodesia. And that too was liberated, with its name Zimbabwe. It is possible to let go of the naming and claiming, to deconstruct some of that and liberate our minds from the language of empire. And that will be very important, if indeed we are to survive.
So what does a post-empire worldview look like? I think I got a slide on this. It's kind of conceptual, hope you go with it beyond this. This is an Anishinaabeg calendar. I want you to note a couple of things. This month here. This month here is called Ode'imini-giizis -- the Strawberry Moon. It is followed by a moon that is called Miini-giizis -- the Blueberry Moon. And then we have a moon that follows that, that is called Manoominike-giizis -- Wild Rice Making Moon. Waatebagaa-giizis, which is When the Leaves Change Color -- that moon. And then we have a moon that is called Binaakwe-giizis -- When The Leaves Fall. We have a moon known as Gashkadino-giizis -- Freezing over Moon. Manidoo-gizisoons -- Little Spirit Moon. Gichi-manidoo-giizis -- Great Spirit Moon. Namebini-giizis -- Sucker Moon. My personal favorite, Onaabani-giizis. Isn't that a great sound? Onaabani-giizis -- that means, Hard Crusted Snow Moon. Also the moon you do not want to do a face plant in the snow.
Maple Syruping Moon, Flower Moon -- Waabigwani-giizis.
Why did I tell you all those, you see them here. I told you all those because -- did you notice that none of those moons is named after a Roman emperor?
It is OK to have an entire worldview that has nothing to do with empire. It can last a very long time.
And in the awesome little chart I had up there -- I don't know if you noticed -- we even had orthography that was not Roman in there. We write in syllabics in the north -- which, of course, the syllabics we got because of the priests. That's how most languages end up being translated in indigenous communities, because they want to give us the Bible. But we did get some pretty good dictionaries out of that process.
I don't know if any of you noticed when the Pope went someplace in Central America in 1992. He went down there, and a lot of native people came to see him and they brought their bibles. And they said, "You know when you came the first time we had the land and you had the bibles. Now we have the bibles and you have the land. We would like to give you back your bibles."
We would like to give them back a few things, too, like their papal bowls. We would like to ask the Unitarians to join with indigenous nations and other churches to both endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People --
-- and to oppose and rescind any support for the Doctrine of Christian Discovery.
We are quite confident that we did not get discovered.
We were on to the fact we were here.
Now the problem with today -- there are a few. Although that Ghana thing was good.
One must celebrate each day something awesome. We as Anishinaabeg and most indigenous people -- then you at some point came from an indigenous people before you got all colonized and into industrial society. You came from some land and some place. It is in your genetics. But we live in a society which they, instead of having a cyclical worldview where we recognize things like we are all related. Or where we recognize that the creator's law -- Gitchie debwewin -- is the highest law, higher than the laws made by nation states or municipalities. That we recognize that durable societies and sustainable societies are based on cyclical thinking. We live in a linear society. The Hopis have this prophecy -- I got this slide on that. There, look at that -- the Hopi Prophecy slide. This here, I've seen it a long time ago -- Thomas Banyacya was a good friend of my father. He presented it in kind of a simplistic form. I think he thought I was more simple. But this slide here talks about the linear society within which America lives. In this worldview what there is an understanding of is that instead of looking both long-term, a lot of times this country accelerates its speed even. There's no intergenerational thinking really, like for the 7th generation from now. They're looking at the corporate quarterly profit marks. That's kind of short-term in my estimation.
And we are of a society which is based on the precept of both the idea of progress, but somehow technology will save us -- that America is smarter. What you end up with is this linear worldview. I'm going to give you two perfect examples of what a linear worldview looks like -- two of our biggest industries in this country. One industry that is an example of a linear economy, is waste production -- waste management, garbage. We produce about 50 trillion pounds a year, not including wastewater -- which I cannot conceptualize -- and we don't know what to do with it. It's a growth industry. If you are a rural community, bid for a waste dump -- you are perpetually employed. That is a linear worldview. It is exemplified also by our lack of thinking about many things, where we don't know what we are doing with them yet. Whether it is GMO or nuclear waste -- no plan. The perception that somehow a solution will be in the future. No idea what we are doing.
And then we have the social production of waste in this society -- the linear worldview of society. What is the social production of waste? That is the prison-industrial complex.
Where, of the 9 million prisoners in the world today, what do we got? 2.1 million and rising in the United States. The largest prison population per capita on a worldwide scale. That is a linear worldview. The social production of waste -- the garbage. And that is not durable. That's not a long-term plan. But if you are a rural community right now, and you want long-term economic stability, be a garbage dump or host a prison. And there is something that is very wrong -- very wrong about that.
So where did that get us? It hasn't done a lot for us and it will not over the long-term. In my community I'm doing my best to deal with some of the major crises that we face. I'm not going to lecture you on climate change, I'm going to make the leap of faith that you guys realize that we have raised the temperature one degree, we're on our way to two, and it would be a really good thing if we could stop that stuff.
That means you have to stop coal. You have to stop some other stuff too, but you have to stop coal.
So we work on this issue of climate change. I just bought my kids a globe, and my little morbid thing is I'm picking islands that are disappearing -- see if you can find them before they disappear guys. That's what's going on. I just came back from the Pacific, and they are going under. But we sit over here in our little bubble and think, well maybe someone will save us. There will be some carbon reduction fairy.
That's not actually true. That carbon reduction fairy lives with the tooth fairy. And when you are about nine, you should realize that neither of them is here.
The other issues I deal with are peak oil, which I have one cool slide on. You all know what peak oil is, right? I had to get counseling for my 19 year old son. I had to explain to my kid that before the kid could even drive, I had consumed half of the world's known oil resources. He has been in counseling for several years. He's doing pretty good, though. I bought the kid a Mercedes that said, "Hippies Suped up out in Berkeley", and it runs on grease.
And that's a good thing that grease. There seems to be plenty in America, so he's OK. But the problem with this peak oil -- I got some other slides if you guys want to show -- is that when you consume half the world's oil resources, you end up where we are today. Which is, you go after oil that should be left some place. Tar sands of Alberta. Mining an area the size of Lake Superior to basically shove -- it's kind of like clay-like sand -- into American gas tanks, and destroying the entire North. Boreal forests, Athabascan watersheds -- entire region. And where's that oil all going? Right here. I understand that 80% of the gas that is consumed in Minnesota is now coming from the tar sands. That is wrong. We should not destroy something for that.
And then you got to the south -- that's the next slide. You don't need me to tell you too much about that one. Well, that's still the tar sands. That's what it looks like when they're done with the processing of the wastewater. That's not looking good. And this is to the south. So we are a country that -- we are basically a big junkie. The largest energy economy in the world, and no plan. Addicted to oil with the reality that when you are addicted at this level, you've pretty much become a junkie. And what junkies do is they do a lot of bad shit and hang out with dealers. And that's America.
It turns out that the remaining oil is in places like 20,000 feet under the sea. In the Arctic ice caps, up there in Alberta, at the bottom of the sea in China. Or could be in some country that may not want to give us their oil. Right? $100 billion a year on the war right now. Cannot afford another war for oil. So we need to have a plan B.
Now we are interested in this plan B in my community, and I'm going to show you how a people start to liberate themselves. I think I got one slide on this one, too. This is the beginning of the liberation. My sister is here, she will appreciate this story. So in my life, I have great privilege. I have the great privilege of talking to you tonight. I have the privilege of living in my own reservation, in my community on a lake that my great-great-great-great-ancestors riced for wild rice, fished for fish, danced in the same arbors, and in the same ceremonies on the same land -- omaa akiing -- here. That's a great privilege. I know that I am fortunate, I know that. And then I have this privilege that I travel around -- I try to keep my carbon footprint kind of low, but I'm working on that one.
But this here is some people I work with. We fight off bad guys. My son he is 10, and one day he's at his school and he says his teacher says, "What's your mom do?" He says, "She saves the rice, and helps the wind, and fights the bad guys." That's a nice thing, huh? Anyway, this is fighting bad guys. We fought these coal plants -- Big Stone II. How many of you are from Minnesota? Big Stone II was a really bad idea, and we defeated it.
Big Stone II we defeated. We're working on Desert Rock now, down in the southwest of the Navaho nation. That was one of them other slides. But sometimes -- no, you can go back. Well, the other one was me, I guess. But a lot of times in our communities, we are people who you wouldn't bet on. You know what I mean? We're technically considered quite oppressed. Nothing has gone well for us. Colonialism -- can we use the word sucks?
Let's just be honest. But in that, what you find is people would not bet on us. But we fight these guys because what happens sometimes, is you get your head -- you know, I asked one of my sisters this. I said why was it that you left that man who hit you? Why was it you left that man who hit you? And she said, "Because I was putting my Indian coat hangers up." That was some nails in the wall. And she said, "And when I put those coathangers up, I put them really high so that when he slammed my head against the wall, I didn't hit them." That is the story a lot of women face, of being battered. And thinking how you can do the least damage. Yeah? That is like my community. Sometimes you're sitting there and you're waiting, and you are a landed people. Two thirds the uranium, one third of all western low-sulfur coal, the water resources, largest dam project, the people who live in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And you see one bad project after another come towards your community. And some of them get in, and then at a certain point when they hit your head against the wall for the tenth time you say -- "That's enough. I am going to fight you. And I'm going to make you back down." And that is the communities that I have the privilege of working with. People who say no.
And a lot of people would not bet on us. But you know what, you don't hang out for 500 years in the largest industrial empire in the world and not be kind of tough.
And so we battle. So I was looking at these Sierra Club statistics. They kept a tally of proposed coal plants and their fates since 2000. 101 plants have been defeated. That is very good, and you all were part of that.
Another 59 face opposition in the courts. Of the 229 plants being tracked, only 23 currently have a chance of getting through.
That is the power of people fighting back. Do not relinquish your power, do not give up. Our mother counts on you to fight back. I work in these communities that fight, because we know that this is our land and there is no place else for us to go. And that is really important, that somehow in this process of deconstructing colonial American thinking that somehow you believe you can keep moving to greener pastures, you say -- "No, I'm going to stay here. And I'm going to fight. I'm going to make it better." It's really, really important, because just because you have privilege of money, does that mean you have privilege to walk away from responsibility?
So we fight, and then we make the alternative. In my experience of 30 years working in front lines of native environmental movements -- you know what, talk is cheap. You can talk about talking about it. That's a big joke in my household. "Oh, they want to talk about talking about it." I know you guys are very process-oriented, I'm not trying to diss that.
It's really important to get stuff done. OK?
So in my community there's these guys -- I used to call them the talking bosses, they talk about talking about talk about it. And people in my community get tired of hearing people talk about what happened or what could be. They want to see it happen. And me, I am 50. And in being 50 -- I am not known as being very patient, that's the reality. I used to pray for patience, and then I had teenagers.
So I quit praying for patience. But in that, I could spend all my time kvetching -- isn't that a great word -- kvetching about what is wrong, and who did what to me, and how I don't like that. But you know what, you're just going to get yourself an ulcer doing that. It is not a very constructive or healthy process. So what we like to do, is just do something. And I find it liberating. So on my reservation I've been working for 20-some years -- White Earth Land Recovery Project -- and in that people say you can't do that. Well, we did that. We bought land, about 1,400 acres. A lot you of you probably support that. Please continue to support that, because we are just poor financially, but we are rich in who we are.
And so we bought land, and we grow our own foods on it, and have a rice processing mill, wild rice, maple syruping. And then we bought this school a few years ago, because we need a big building. We have a USDA certified food processing facility, because we have the first tribal farm to school program in the State of Minnesota.
So you could talk about your kids getting diabetes, or you could just get them some food. We have 60 different people -- farmers and gardeners who provide food for that. So I needed a bigger building, and so in the town of Callaway, Minnesota they had a school. In 2003 the school won the No Child Left Behind Award. In 2004 they put $1.5 million in renovations into the school. And in 2005, they closed the school. Because that is America -- we fund the military and we don't fund education. Right?
So as we go to buy the school -- and this is what it is like being a native person in the State of Minnesota or anywhere in this darn country right now. Get real. I go to negotiate with the school board, and the quote from the school board chair is, "We don't know what's going to happen if those Indians buy that school." There you go. It's like, grow up. This is a new millennium, and you cannot tell people of color or native people what to do.
We need to be good neighbors. That's based on respect and trust. So after much haggling, they sell me the school -- they sell the White Earth Land Recovery Project the school. And in that school I have one daycare, which is native-centric. I have the women's advocacy program. The boys and girls club. I got Honor the Earth, our national organization's offices are in there. I have one guy who comes in twice a week and does Tae Kwon Do. And then I have our organization in there. And then the FCC, with the help of my friend Kristen Tharaldson -- do you want to give your princess wave there Kristen. She helped me write the grant, and we got licensed for a radio station.
Niijii broadcasting. And that's going to be the first one in our area. But then cooler than that -- well, I don't know if anything's cooler than having a radio station. We had to battle that one too, but we got it. Now where's my cool slides about what we did then? OK, and then this is what we did. This is my grandson [? Giwaiden Bakanaga. ?] Then we decide, you know we have class 4 wind on our reservation. So we decide we're going to put up a wind turbine. And we don't want to put up one little wind turbine, and stay in what I call the ghetto -- which is micro-wind for your health and cabin. We want to put up a big wind turbine that the utility has to buy power from us.
And you know, well it's not because it was the same utility that we had just defeated in Big Stone II --
-- but I told those guys at Ottertail Power that this was like kissing babies, buying wind from Indians.
Right? Much better plan than putting up coal-fired power plants that nobody wants. Right? Made perfect sense to me. We're still working on it. If any of you are good friends with Ottertail Power, or have any shares or have any relatives that are -- send a little note up that says, be nice to the Indians.
So we start putting it up. And Tony Tibbetts here in the first row -- want to give you a wave here. This is the prize on this one. It turns out Indian people -- I don't know if you know this -- we have the highest rate of enlistment in the military. Did you know this? Highest rate of living veterans, too. So we have a lot native guys who were in the military -- and women. All our families have these people. Anyway, Mr. Tibbetts here is a colonel -- was in for 26 years. I did ask him how come after the first four years he was still in.
But he did a lot of work with our tax dollars that you and I probably did not approve of, and also did some things which were good. But in the course of that, I asked what you did. I said, what did you do -- and actually my mother asked this. You know this is how this works, is your mother asks those questions. And it turns out he was in demolitions. I said, "What did you do?" He says, "Well I blew up bridges, I blew up communications towers, infrastructure." I said, "Do you have a degree to blow things up, or do you just blow things up?" He says, "I have a masters in engineering from Harvard." I said, "Can you do anything besides blow things up. Like can you build anything?"
He said, "Aaaah."
See, we have a lot of people in the military that have a skill set that needs to be reapplied to a peacetime economy.
I live on a rural and renewal Indian reservation in northwestern Minnesota. I try to put up wind, I go to the community wind thing. And you know what, I go to the community wind meeting and there's all these guys named Sven and Lars.
Now I like Sven and Lars, but Sven and Lars do not live here, and they are not going to come to White Earth anytime soon. You know what I'm saying. So what we decide is we need to figure out how to get this intellectual capacity for the next energy economy localized. Because the green energy economy cannot look like the scorched earth energy economy. It has to be local. It has to be efficient. You cannot reboot the inefficiencies of this economy. Do not let them -- them -- take you into the debate that renewable energy will never meet present demand. No one should. You're losing about half the power between point of origin and point of use.
Do not get drawn into that debate. What you need is an efficient economy that does not transport everything so far, does not waste so much power, does not try to feed the gas tanks of Hummers.
So us, we put up the cool, awesome wind turbine. And now we're going on, we're hoping to put some more up. Because it turns out -- I don't know how this happened -- but Indian reservations are the windiest places in the country.
I don't know how that worked out, but that's what we got. We have class 4 wind on White Earth. Pine Ridge, where my sister is from, has about class 7. Rosebud, class 7. I was out at Blackfeet reservation, could barely stand up.
So what you want is a wind turbine there, not a nuclear reactor.
But that takes us to liberate our minds from what we believe we are entitled to in a process of power generation. Because if you want to relinquish everything to BP and EXXON, go ahead. They're doing pretty damn good from what I see. You might want to take some responsibility ourselves. And that is a little bit more than just putting in your LED bulbs. That is making a commitment to having, for instance, access to the grid for small wind. You got a power grid that is centralized and clogged with coal. You need to let us guys get online. But we have to fight for that one, too. And you need to get far more efficient.
So we work on this here wind, and then on my reservation we also work on food. So this is our little cool thing. This is my friend Ivan. He has a Lakota squash. Now what's kind of cool about this is that our people -- you guys are on to the fact that we actually had a lot of food before you all came over, right? You got that, yeah? Did you ever notice these words, these are Nowata words -- like potato, tomato, avocado. What's the other one -- chocolate. Did you ever notice that? Really essential parts of European cuisine came from here. We had a lot of food. So a lot of that food is very diverse. 8,000 varieties of corn is way more than Monsanto has been able to do.
And we grew hundreds and thousands of acres of corn. I was looking at some archaeological maps at my farming conference. This guy's thesis, he said 50,000 continuous acres of corn up in northern Wisconsin. That's a lot of corn.
OK. So what we're on about -- I got a couple of slides on this, can kind of flip through them. This is our wild rice, too. Is first you have to protect what you have. I don't know if any of you know our story, but we spent about 10 years trying to keep our wild rice from getting genetically engineered. In my head, I just don't think that the words genetic engineering should be associated with the words wild rice.
It seems like wild should mean something. But I see salmon is on the chopping block. So for us, this is our sacred food, part of our whole migration story. And in that you could -- just hold on that for a second -- but in that, our rice comes on our lakes and rivers. We harvest it with two sticks in a canoo. And we harvest in this month Manoominike-giizis, and we eat that food. It's our sacred food. It's very good for everything about you. And we fought to keep it. And now we fight to keep it from getting genetically engineered. So we keep that bottled up, we're doing pretty good. I'm actually going to have some postcards at the end if you're interested in contacting us about our information, but about our rice. You can pick them up on the way out. But the other thing we've been fighting to do is to keep our corn diverse. Because the Irish potato famine probably taught us, you don't want to monocrop. So all these varieties, we grow them. It's like our rice -- some's short, some's tall, some's fat, some's skinny, some looks like a bottle brush. These corn varieties, we've been growing them all. They're all pre-industrial -- they are not addicted to fertilizer, they are not addicted to irrigation, and they are not addicted to pesticides. What do you think?
And there are ways for microclimates. Most of them are frost resistant. So what do you want in a time of climate change? You want to count on Monsanto to bail you out? Or do you want to figure out how to grow your own food, and grow food that is from a place that knows how to adapt? That's what you need to do. Because that's what we're trying to do, is to ensure that those varieties are there. And if any of you've got that gift, you should try to grow them. They are also higher in nutritional value than pretty much anything you can buy at the store. We're very, very proud of this work in our community. And my dad -- he passed away about 15 years ago, and he was a great man -- but he used to say to me something that it took until pretty recently for me to understand. He said, "Winona, I don't want to hear your philosophy if you can't grow corn."
Isn't that an interesting thing to say? But he's right. You can talk about talking about it. But let us hope that we can do something good. I did have kind of a list of things you could do, but one of them is you can grow corn. In fact, you could just go yank up your lawns.
It's a small thing, but you know lawns really have to do with British Empire things. You know what I mean? If you just kind of deconstruct where they came from. I went to Central Asia a few years ago, no one had a lawn -- they had a garden. And they hung out together instead of behind their gated fences with their barbecues. They seemed pretty happy. But grow something.
So I have a little cartoon. There you go. Do you want me to read that to you, or can you all read it?
Audience: Read it.
Winona Laduke: Oh, I didn't hear you. OK, this is how it really is. It says -- "How about " -- well see, now I can't even see it myself. There. Can someone see it now?
Winona Laduke: Oh. It says, "How about it works like this. You guys give us all your corn, and then we'll decimate your tribe and name a baseball team after you."
That was kind of how it really was -- you know, kind of projected fast forward and all.
All right. So what does what we are doing at White Earth mean in the broader context? Here we are, and you got a shot at doing something great. We all do. We are the people who are here now. Those ones who are not here yet are counting on us to do the right thing. Our ancestors worked really hard to have some dignity. They are counting on us to carry on a legacy where there is dignity for all our relations, whether they have wings, or fins, or roots, or paws.
The rest of them cannot talk. Dolphins, they can talk but most of us can't hear them. And so they count on us to do the right thing. In the anthropocentric worldview that we have evolved to in this America, we think kind of about us, don't we? In that we even think about them in terms of management -- natural resource management, animal management, wildlife management. You know, they all were doing pretty good without us. It's really us managing our own behavior. Our own consumption. So it is about us. You are relatively enlightened or you would not be here -- that's a little leap of faith, but I'm going to go with it.
And in that, we need to look at who we are and where we are. We're in the largest empire and we consume a third of the world's resources. That requires constant intervention into other people's lands, and constant violations of other people's human rights. So we can abstract our discussion into spiritual realms, but in our spiritual practice it is also how you live that makes the difference. It is not as if there are not answers to these dilemmas. If you want to cut CO2 emissions, you need to end the coal. There's no such thing as clean coal, and there is no carbon sequestration fairy.
You need to get an energy system that's efficient. You need to get a grid that is smart and picks up small power. You need to get a train system that would not be an embarrassment to Bulgaria.
You need to not transport those kiwis anymore. Average meal, 1,400 miles from farmer to table. You need to relocalize your food systems. Here in Minnesota we need to get down with the root crops, because they grow a good portion of the year. That is how you cut CO2 emissions, go organic and don't move the food. It's not rocket science, it's common sense. You eat better and you are more connected to your neighbors and to your relatives. You fight the bad guys while you do the right thing. You fight them conceptually, and you fight them on the ground. I am sorry, I know that you are a peaceful bunch, but I also know that you are willing to take a stand. So you need to do that.
You need to oppose the single largest industrial project in world history, which is the tar sands. You cannot destroy Canada to feed the gas tanks of America.
Any of you -- just my PSA -- any of you that are from the Northwest? They're bringing in something called the Heavy Haul, made in Korea to mine up in the tar sands. Special equipment is coming in from Korea on barge to the port of Portland. Each shipment -- check this out -- 30 feet wide, 24 feet tall, 162 feet long. Heavy haul. Someone told me it is as tall as the Statue of Liberty on its side. They cannot move it on the road, because it is illegal. So they barge it up the river, and they're trying to get it up these mountain passes, so that they can get it up there into Canada. Do not be complicit in the destruction. Liberate ourselves.
I went to an event with James Cameron at the UN. James Cameron is that Avatar guy. I know some of you are still probably -- how many of you saw the movie Avatar? Oh, I'm proud of you. It is OK to like Avatar.
I know there are a lot of politically correct discussions on Avatar, there's certainly one in the native community. My little native boys and I liked it because the natives won.
And that in itself was pretty awesome. But I say that -- in his discussion we ask him to come to the UN Permanent Forum on the Rights of Indigenous People, where we were talking with the US about being enlightened enough to support the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. We're hoping you support that as well.
So we asked James Cameron to come. You know, he is like one rich white guy filmmaker, why would he come hang with us? Because the native people asked him. So I witnessed hundreds of native people in the room with him, and then had a full on showing with the 3d glasses, and the native people from the Amazon are there with the 3d glasses watching Avatar. That's kind of a cool image, you know what I'm saying? It was awesome. Everybody liked him, liked it. It was really a great -- I'm never going to forget that moment.
Anyway, he said -- you know that film's the largest grossing film in world history, right? You know this about this film, right? He said, "You know, we had to fight to make that film." He said, "What Americans suffer from is that they are overwhelmed and that they are in denial." He said, "The key in what Avatar did is it had two elements that help disconnect that." He said, "Moral outrage and hope." Very important. Do not ever let them take your hope. Do not.
Tell your stories and be strong. Do not expect your stories to show up in the gossip magazines, they will not. But remember our victories -- that we stopped the powerplant, we stopped the mine. Drive down the coast by Santa Barbara. I look out there one day and I said, "Look, there's a couple of oil derricks." But there was not a liquefied natural gas terminal, because we fought it and won. Remember that we fight these guys and we win, but keep your courage. Remember that there is an answer.
This guy Lester Brown, really smart -- Plan B 4.0, he was on Plan B 2.1 before. Worldwatch Institute. Shifting 13% of the world midget military budget -- basically, what we spend on the war plus a couple billion -- to restoring coral reefs, cleaning up big messes, reforesting topsoil, renewable energy, organic agriculture. He says in about 10 years you could get this act together. We have technology. We have money that is squandered, technology that is not appropriately applied. What we have lacked is the courage, the political will, to do the right thing. My recommendation is do not hold your breath for someone to save you, because they will not. You must do these things. My personal theory -- if we can do it on White Earth, anyone can do it. And then take that to regional, statewide, national, and international efforts. But the next change, the next revolution will be from the local.
Where's my cool slide? Isn't that a cool slide? This is [? akaroabeam ?] That is, of course, some great minds -- Sitting Bull and Einstein. Great thinking does not just come from Europe. Just a newsflash. Great thinking comes from everywhere, and it is incumbent upon us to draw upon the great spiritual and intellectual thinkers.
I have a couple of slides on how to get in touch with us, you can see. But what I want to say is, is that it is possible to make these changes, and it is us who will make them. Omaa akiing. Omaa akiing.
I want to thank you for your time, and encourage you in your good work ahead. Miigwetch.
58 minutes. Hah.
Rev. Peter Morales: Thank you. [INAUDIBLE]
Winona Laduke: Thank you.
Rev. Peter Morales: Thank you.
Winona Laduke: So, am I good or do you [INAUDIBLE]
Miigwetch, thank you.
Rev. Peter Morales: I encourage you to talk to Winona out there in the book signing. Thank you so much.
For more information contact web @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Tuesday, December 4, 2012.
Sidebar Content, Page Navigation
More Ways to Search
LaDuke Urges Environmental Action in Ware Lecture (UU World GA Blog)
Donate to Support This Program and the Ongoing Work of the UUA
Read or subscribe to this RSS feed for the latest updates.
Read or subscribe to UUA.org Updates for the latest additions to our site.
Learn more about the Beliefs & Principles of Unitarian Universalism, or read our online magazine, UU World, for features on today's Unitarian Universalists. Visit an online UU church, or find a congregation near you.