The Winona LaDuke Chronicles

by Winona LaDuke

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Last Updated on October 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1086

On Place

In this chapter, Winona LaDuke discusses the various ways in which Native people are tied to Place—the specific, sacred land where they have always lived and on which they rely. The first example is Madeline Island, ancestral home of the Ojibwe, which was slowly stolen from them through treaties. Forced onto reservations, the People continue to mourn their stolen homeland and way of life. Now, the island is dominated by summer homes for the wealthy, but the Native presence is gradually reinstating itself through bilingual signs and an increased presence there.

Next, LaDuke tackles the topic of mining, particularly copper, coal, and oil fracking mines. Given their extremely negative impact on the earth, Native people fight to limit and control these mining operations on their land. Indigenous communities prioritize keeping a place—and its people—alive over profit. This is challenging, as many indigenous communities are in desperate need of income. However, corruption and corporate dishonesty prevent tribal members from getting the money they are owed. This, along with the environmental impact, prompts LaDuke to reflect on the possibilities for healthier and more lucrative energy sources, such as wind and solar energy.

Indigenous people are based in the place where they belong, which provides for their needs (for example, the wild rice fields of the Ojibwe). Native people persist in fighting for their rights and their sacred land. There is a conflict of worldviews between indigenous people and the current dominant culture of the United States and Canada. Slowly, change is coming, such as through the reclamation of Native names (for example, Mt. Denali in Alaska, the Haida Gwaii homeland, and the Salish Sea in Washington State). Native people continue to fight for their sacred land.

Short Stories and Fargo Forum Communications

This chapter is a diverse collection of essays and stories, all based around the theme of Native American identity and the many cultural contributions made (both voluntarily and involuntarily) by indigenous people. An example of this is the Irish Potato Famine, during which the Choctaw people, having recently endured forcible removal and a death march from their homeland, donated a large sum of money toward famine relief. In modern times, LaDuke reflects on the need for action on climate change and how essential the indigenous perspective is when it comes to respecting and protecting the land. On the Standing Rock reservation, a Lakota leader meets with President Obama and reads text from the 1868 treaty, suggesting how it may be applied to today's problems. In his words, all are invited to reject consumerism and live with the land.

LaDuke also mentions the ongoing conflict over the Washington Redskins team name and other organizations with Indian mascots. It is notable how many people express frustration and protest against this appropriate and necessary change. On the positive side, the example of lacrosse is given. This traditional game has become international, helps Iroquois youth claim their nationality, and gives hope and pride to young Native people.

Writings on Women, Idle No More, and Canadian Colonialism

In this chapter, LaDuke celebrates the achievements of Native women, in particular their strong leadership in recent movements such as Idle No More. She also mourns the ongoing problem of violence against women, noting that indigenous women carry a particularly heavy load.

Native women work to be heard and to claim justice for their communities. Women are at the forefront of movements such as opposing mining companies in Canada. Indigenous women and youth were never included in the treaty-making process, so now they can speak freely, never having had access to men's privileges in the past. Now, indigenous people demand to be included in the decision-making process and receive a share of the wealth from natural resources on their land. Consent, LaDuke argues, cannot be manufactured by threats.

Black Snake and the Pipeline Chronicles

This chapter contains a litany of problems with oil pipelines, including (but not limited to) their environmental impact, high cost, and lack of customers. Oil companies incur multiple safety violations. Infrastructural failure is rampant, yet these companies continually propose new pipelines instead of repairing old infrastructure, which would create more jobs and increase safety. LaDuke hopes that tribal treaties could prevent new pipelines—that is, if they are honored—as well as activism on the part of ranchers, farmers, and Native peoples. LaDuke is hopeful that the Environmental Protection Agency will step in to help and suggests that companies invest instead in sustainable energy.

On Foods

In this chapter, LaDuke discusses the value of Native foods and crops. She proposes that traditional agriculture is a way forward for a healthier planet and people. In a letter to the Minnesota governor, LaDuke outlines how Native food rights are being attacked, mentioning wild rice, fish, and moose. Then she weighs the pros and cons of marijuana legalization on reservations, concluding that careful regulation would be key.

The push for organic agriculture and heritage crops is strong. LaDuke finds inspiration at Navdanya Farm in India as a model for sustainable agriculture. LaDuke argues that corporate agriculture, on the other hand, threatens land, water, and people. It is toxic and unsustainable, and contributes to global warming. Indigenous agriculture is the only way to feed the world and provide a healthy future for both people and our planet.

Tributes and Gratitude

In this chapter, LaDuke recognizes those who have passed on and left their mark on her life and work. She honors several Native visionaries and leaders, as well as some non-Native allies who worked for indigenous rights and social justice.

Geronimo, Militarization, and the Indian Wars

This chapter is mostly an excerpt from LaDuke's previously published book, The Militarization of Indian Country. She claims that "we need to end the Indian Wars." This means recognizing the longstanding military bias against Natives, such as the military seizure of land. LaDuke mentions military abuses such as nuclear testing, dishonesty, dangerous ordnance (such as bombs and gas canisters), and mismanaged secrets. These result in complications and a remediation process in court as Native people try to reclaim their land.

Economics for the Seventh Generation

In this single essay, and the final chapter of the book, LaDuke considers how to plan for an environmentally healthy future. She uses the city of Detroit as an example; now bankrupt, the city is being poisoned by oil companies and will never see a return of its former golden age, associated with the traditional automobile. Instead, LaDuke has a different hope for the future: solar and wind power, hemp, and energy-efficient technologies like the Tesla car.

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