Co-sponsored by the Virginia Tech Office of Inclusion and Diversity and Ati: Wa:oki Indigenous Community Center
Harvard-educated economist, activist, and author Winona LaDuke has devoted her life to advocating for Indigenous people’s rights and environmental justice. Living on the White Earth Reservations, the grassroots organizer is an Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg and was a leader of the 2016 Dakota Access Pipeline protests to protect water access and sacred Indigenous lands in North Dakota.
In 1985 LaDuke co-founded and co-chaired the Indigenous Women’s Network (IWN), a coalition dedicated to empowering women to take active roles in tribal politics and culture. In 1989 she founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP), a reservation-based land acquisition, environmental advocacy, and cultural organization and one of the largest reservation-based nonprofits in the country. She is a former board member of Greenpeace USA. In 1993 she collaborated with the Indigo Girls to co-found Honor the Earth, an advocacy group working on behalf of Native environmental groups.
In 1994 LaDuke was nominated by Time Magazine as one of America’s 50 most promising leaders under the age of 40. She was 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 (which she used to begin the White Earth Land Recovery Project). LaDuke was a two-time Green Party running mate for Ralph Nader in 1996 and 2000, and she is an international thought leader and lecturer in climate justice, renewable energy, and environmental justice, plus an advocate for protecting Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.
In 1998 Ms. Magazine named her one of their Women of the Year. In 2021 LaDuke was named to the first Forbes list of “50 Over 50 Women of Impact” in partnership with Mika Brzezinski’s Know Your Value program, dedicated to shining a light on women over the age of 50 who have achieved significant success later in life, often overcoming formidable odds or barriers. Her work with the Dakota Access Pipeline protests inspired the 2017 documentary First Daughter and the Black Snake. In 2017 LaDuke also won the University of California’s Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy, and Tolerance.
LaDuke has published six acclaimed nonfiction titles, including The Militarization of Indian Country; Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming; All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life; The Winona LaDuke Chronicles: Stories from the Front Lines in the Battle for Environmental Justice; The Winona LaDuke Reader: A Collection of Essential Writings; and most recently, To Be a Water Protector: Rise of the Wiindigoo Slayers — a book that deals with her activism battling Line 3, an Enbridge tar sands oil pipeline in northern Minnesota. LaDuke is also the author of the novel Last Standing Woman.
This is LaDuke's first appearance at the Moss Arts Center.