Native Village Youth and Education News

May 1, 2009 Issue 198
Volume 3

Aiding the Earth
Environmental activist shares her life lessons
 By Shade Fakunle

“Who’s in charge of your future?” asked Winona LaDuke, founding director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project. Winona recently spoke at Ohio Wesleyan University on the topic “Building a Green Economy: Indigenous Strategies for a Sustainable Future.” During her speech, Winona shared “tenets of sustainability” based upon the Anishinabe teachings she learned as a youth:

Teaching No. 1: The Creator’s law: the highest law. We are all related.

In the larger teaching, we believe we are related to the larger world, not just humans,” LaDuke says.

But American society is vastly different, she contends. “This society doesn’t look at that,” so American society consumes the environment. “Those extinctions [of natural resources] are because of our greed,” LaDuke says.

Teaching No. 2: Most things which are natural are cyclical.

“The tides, the moons, the seasons, our bodies … they are all cyclical,” she says.

LaDuke says that American society sees the world as linear, not cyclical, and that one of America's  biggest industries is waste management. “We don’t reduce, recycle, and reuse. We extract, produce, and throw away,” she says.

Teaching No. 3: In each deliberation, consider the impact of the seventh generation.

LaDuke says the acts of today's generation determines the state of future generations. “The present financial crisis is the root of the problem. We wouldn’t be in the crisis if we had long-term thinking [in the past],” she says.

Health issues, climate change, and food security issues will also grow, she said.

LaDuke went on to suggest actions that everyday people can take to help the environment survive. She mentioned that everyone could grow gardens to re-localize food security and to harness wind power to re-localize energy.

“In the end, you have a choice. Try to do the best you can. Don’t squander your mind. You have a shot at keeping them from combusting the planet into an oblivion. We have a shot at doing things right,” LaDuke concludes.

LaDuke was raised in Oregon. In 1996 and 2000, she ran for vice president of the Unites States as a member of the Green Party. She has received many awards and is a member of  the National Women Hall of Fame.




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