Last Updated on October 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 473
The Winona LaDuke Chronicles is a nonfictional collection of stories, essays, and memoirs. Therefore, the characters discussed are actual people, all of whom have varying levels of importance to LaDuke and her work.
LaDuke has to be considered as the central character in her own work. Each story is in some way about her, and indeed, most of the chapters chronicle Winona's own travels and personal struggles on her campaign to build a greener, healthier world. A Native Ojibwe (the tribe which she typically refers to as Anishinaabeg), Winona is a longtime advocate for environmental justice. She ran as a vice presidential candidate twice, alongside Ralph Nader, and is an author of some renown. She has written many essays, articles, and books (both fiction and nonfiction). The Winona LaDuke Chronicles was written in the wake of a terrible fire that destroyed LaDuke's home. In rebuilding it—with all the materials sourced from Craigslist and salvage—she was able to chronicle much of her life's work while honoring her strength and resilience in the face of numerous obstacles.
Nader was LaDuke's running mate and the Green Party presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000. Notably, he was criticized for "taking" much of the liberal vote in 2000, allowing for a Bush victory over Gore.
Barack Obama was president at the time this book was written, though by its publication date in January 2017, he was just leaving office. LaDuke refers to Obama several times in her Chronicles, both as an individual—such as in her references to his visit to the Lakota reservation and his respectful listening to Native perspective—and also, sometimes less flattering, as the leader of his administration. As the president of the United States, Obama had many responsibilities and had to listen to varying perspectives. Sometimes this came into conflict with what LaDuke considers to be essential environmental interests. However, generally speaking, he is shown in a positive light in this book.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Tutu is highlighted as a man of great integrity and poise. LaDuke had the privilege of meeting him and admires him greatly. Although he is a minor character, it is important to recognize him as a world leader for social justice and an outspoken advocate in his own right. This, in large part, is why he is an inspiration for Winona LaDuke.
Harper was the prime minister of Canada from 2006 to 2015. From LaDuke's writing, it is clear that she is not a fan of this man's policies. As a conservative, Harper prioritized profit over Native rights. His government pushed for tar sands mining and pipelines that would traverse and damage valuable Native land. Many of LaDuke's campaigns had to do with protesting actions taken by the Harper government, and she reiterates many times his damaging worldview and lack of concern for long-term environmental health and well-being.
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