Winona LaDuke urges county residents “to preserve the land that we belong to”

Speaking with Winona LaDuke, center, at M State, Fergus Falls. on Oct. 3 was college sophomore Samantha Andrews, left, who has ties to Perham and Sue Wika, right, of M State’s sociology department.
PHOTO BY TOM HINTGEN

M State, Fergus Falls, welcomed Honor the Earth program director Winona LaDuke of the White Earth Reservation to campus on Oct. 3.

“Speaking events, an example being today’s guest speaker Winona LaDuke, is among the true hearts of education,” said M State’s Matthew Borcherding, dean of liberal arts and science.

Students, instructors and others packed Legacy Hall at M State just past noon to hear from LaDuke. She speaks all across the nation about protecting the environment, promoting renewable energy, tribal land claims and other issues.

“Power is in the earth, and it is your relationship to the earth,” LaDuke says.

She ran for vice president in 1996 and 2000 on a ticket headed by Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.

“We here in west central Minnesota take for granted our clean water, wild ricing and other ways of life not available to many people in other parts of the world,” LaDuke said.

The graduate of Harvard and Antrioch Universities emphasized, “we need to figure out what we are going to do, in this moment in time.”

LaDuke referred to a prophecy called “The Seventh Fire” in which people have a choice between two paths.

“One path,” she said, “is well worn but it’s scorched. The other path is not well worn and it’s green. It’s our choice on which path to embark. “Moving from the Seventh Fire to the Eighth Fire can lead us to that green path.”

She took note of Native American history when at one time 50 million buffalo roamed in North America and lived off 250 species of grass.

“There once were 8,000 varieties of corn, reflecting the early Native American way of life and their hard work in agriculture,” she said.

LaDuke, a renowned author of books and newspaper columns, relies on her unique understanding of Native American culture. She shares the activism of Native Americans and their struggle for survival.

Her visit to M State in Fergus Falls was cosponsored by the college’s sociology department and the Unitarian Church of Underwood.