Last Updated on October 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 342
The Winona LaDuke Chronicles is a collection of personal stories by Winona LaDuke, but the book also contains journalistic essays on various Native American communities throughout North America. It is important to know LaDuke's background in order to fully grasp her messages in the book. LaDuke was a two-time vice presidential nominee in 1996 and 2000. She represented the Green Party and shared the ticket both times with Ralph Nader, who was the party's presidential nominee. LaDuke is also an environmental and political activist, as well as a proponent of hemp legalization.
LaDuke's activism background is essential to note because the collection of essays in the book is rooted in her passion for social, economic, and political change in the United States. In particular, LaDuke—who was once a principal at the Ojibwe White Earth Reservation, her tribal affiliation through her father—is concerned with the economic and social issues facing indigenous peoples in North America. This is why the book's structure is based on her interactions with an eclectic range of Native American communities across the United States and Canada.
LaDuke began writing the stories that make up the book after she had lost her home in a fire. LaDuke saw the silver lining in this tragedy by interpreting the fire as a form of cleansing. The collection is a sort of exorcism of America's past atrocities against its indigenous population throughout history, and LaDuke initiates this cathartic process by having intimate conversations with people living in reservations.
Her personal journey throughout the book is parallel with the journey of Native Americans as a whole. By relating the unique history, culture, and belief systems of each tribe, LaDuke is able to show how far down the socioeconomic ladder Native Americans have fallen due to systematic oppression and violence by the United States government.
However, the book has a hopeful voice, and LaDuke—through both personal experience and the experiences of others in her community—tries to give the younger generation advice on how to fight for political liberation, environmental policies, and economic reform.
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