Native American land rights activist, environmentalist, economist, politician, and author Winona LaDuke has spent her career working on a national level to advocate, raise public support and create funding for environmental groups. A graduate of Harvard and Antioch Universities, LaDuke has become known as a voice for Native American economic and environmental concerns around the globe.
LaDuke is an Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg. While attending Harvard University, LaDuke met Jimmy Durham, a well-known Native American activist, and her own interest in issues related to Native tribes began. At the age of 18, LaDuke spoke to the United Nations regarding Native American concerns.
After graduation, LaDuke moved to the White Earth Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota, where she became principal of the reservation high school. There, she quickly became involved in a lawsuit to recover lands promised to the Anishinaabeg people by an 1867 federal treaty. After four years of litigation the case was dismissed, prompting LaDuke to found the White Earth Land Recovery Project. The project’s mission centers on land recovery, preservation and restoration of traditional practices and the strengthening of spiritual and cultural heritage. In 1985, she established the Indigenous Women’s Network, a group devoted to increasing the visibility of Native Women and empowering them to participate in political, social, and cultural processes.
LaDuke is program director of the Honor the Earth Fund, a national advocacy group that seeks to educate and create public support and funding for native environmental groups. In 1998, her work was recognized by Ms. Magazine, which named her Woman of the Year. Four years earlier she was nominated by Time Magazine as one of the country’s fifty most promising leaders under the age of 40.
In 1996 and again in 2000 she was a vice-presidential candidate, joining Ralph Nader on the Green Party ticket. A mother of three, LaDuke has written extensively on Native American and environmental issues.