Winona LaDuke

Winona LaDuke (born August 18, 1959) is an American economist, environmentalist, writer and industrial hemp grower, known for her work on tribal land claims and preservation, as well as sustainable development.[1]

Winona LaDuke
Winona laduke 2.jpg
Born (1959-08-18) August 18, 1959 (age 62)
Los Angeles, California
EducationHarvard University (BA)
Antioch University (MA)
Political partyGreen

In 1996 and 2000, she ran for Vice President of the United States as the nominee of the Green Party of the United States, on a ticket headed by Ralph Nader. She is the executive director and a co-founder (along with the Indigo Girls) of Honor the Earth, a Native environmental advocacy organization that played an active role in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.[2]

In 2016, she received an electoral vote for vice president. In doing so, she became the first Green Party member to receive an electoral vote.

Early life and educationEdit

Winona LaDuke in earlier years

Winona (meaning "first daughter" in Dakota language) LaDuke was born in 1959 in Los Angeles, California, to Betty Bernstein and Vincent LaDuke (later known as Sun Bear[3]). Her father was from the Ojibwe White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, and her mother of Jewish European ancestry from The Bronx, New York. LaDuke spent some of her childhood in Los Angeles, but was primarily raised in Ashland, Oregon.[4] Due to her father's heritage, she was enrolled with the Ojibwe Nation at an early age, but did not live at White Earth, or any other reservation, until 1982. She started work at White Earth after graduating from college, when she got a job there as principal of the high school.[3]

After her parents married, Vincent LaDuke worked as an actor in Hollywood in supporting roles in Western movies, while Betty LaDuke completed her academic studies. The couple separated when Winona was five, and her mother took a position as an art instructor at Southern Oregon College, now Southern Oregon University at Ashland, then a small logging and college town near the California border.[3] In the 1980s, Vincent reinvented himself as a New Age spiritual leader by the name Sun Bear.[3]

While growing up in Ashland, LaDuke attended public school and was on the debate team in high school. She attended Harvard University, where she joined a group of Indigenous activists, and graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts in economics (rural economic development).[3] When she moved to White Earth, she did not know the Ojibwe language, or many people, and was not quickly accepted. While working as the principal of the local Minnesota reservation high school she completed research for her master's thesis on the reservation's subsistence economy and became involved in local issues. She completed an M.A. in Community Economic Development through Antioch University's distance-learning program.[3]

Career and activismEdit

LaDuke in 2009

While working as a principal at the high school, LaDuke became an activist. In 1985 she helped found the Indigenous Women's Network. She worked with Women of All Red Nations to publicize American forced sterilization of Native American women.

Next she became involved in the struggle to recover lands for the Anishinaabe. An 1867 treaty with the United States provided a territory of more than 860,000 acres for the White Earth Indian Reservation. Under the Nelson Act of 1889, an attempt to have the Anishinaabe assimilate by adopting a European-American model of subsistence farming, communal tribal land was allotted to individual households. The US classified any excess land as surplus, allowing it to be sold to non-natives. In addition, many Anishinaabe sold their land individually over the years; these factors caused the tribe to lose control of most of its land. By the mid-20th century, the tribe held only one-tenth of the land in its reservation.[3]

In 1989, LaDuke founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP) in Minnesota with the proceeds of a human rights award from Reebok. The goal is to buy back land in the reservation that non-Natives bought and to create enterprises that provide work to Anishinaabe. By 2000, the foundation had bought 1,200 acres, which it held in a conservation trust for eventual cession to the tribe.[3]

WELRP is also working to reforest the lands and revive cultivation of wild rice, long a traditional food. It markets that and other traditional products, including hominy, jam, buffalo sausage, and other products. It has started an Ojibwe language program, a herd of buffalo, and a wind-energy project.[3]

LaDuke is also executive director of Honor the Earth, an organization she co-founded with the non-Native folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls in 1993. The organization's mission is:

to create awareness and support for Native environmental issues and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native communities. Honor the Earth develops these resources by using music, the arts, the media, and Indigenous wisdom to ask people to recognize our joint dependency on the Earth and be a voice for those not heard.[5]

The Evergreen State College class of 2014 chose LaDuke to be a keynote speaker. She delivered her address at the school's graduation on June 13, 2014.[6]

In 2016, LaDuke was involved in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, participating at the resistance camps in North Dakota and speaking to the media on the issue.[7]

At the July 2019 National Audubon Convention in Milwaukee, LaDuke gave the keynote address with updates on efforts to stop the Sandpiper pipeline, other pipelines, and other projects near Ojibwe waters and through the Leech Lake Reservation. She urged everyone to be water protectors and stand up for their rights.[8]

In 2020 and 2021, she was a leader of the protests against the Line 3 pipeline.[9][10][11][12]

Political careerEdit

In 1996 and 2000, LaDuke ran as the vice-presidential candidate with Ralph Nader on the Green Party ticket. She was not endorsed by any tribal council or other tribal government.[citation needed] LaDuke endorsed the Democratic Party ticket for president and vice-president in 2004,[13] 2008,[14] and 2012.[15]

In 2016, Robert Satiacum, Jr., a faithless elector from Washington, cast his presidential vote for Native American activist Faith Spotted Eagle and his vice-presidential vote for LaDuke, making her the first Green Party member and the first Native American woman to receive an Electoral College vote for vice president.[16]

White Earth Land Recovery ProjectEdit

WELRP has worked to revive cultivation and harvesting of wild rice, a traditional Ojibwe food. It produces and sells traditional foods and crafts through its label, Native Harvest.[17]

Honor the EarthEdit

Honor the Earth is a national advocacy group encouraging public support and funding for Native environmental groups. It works nationally and internationally on issues of climate change, renewable energy, sustainable development, food systems and environmental justice. Members of Honor the Earth were active in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests.[2]

Hemp activismEdit

LaDuke operates a 40-acre (16 ha) industrial hemp farm on the White Earth Indian Reservation, growing hemp varieties from different regions of the world,[18] vegetables and tobacco.[19] She has said that she turned to industrial hemp farming after being urged to investigate the practice for several years and advocates its potential to turn the American economy away from fossil fuels.[20] LaDuke has promoted the growth of both marijuana and industrial hemp on Indigenous tribal lands for financial profit and the localization of the economy.[21][22] Her position can be considered controversial given experiences of other reservations, such as the Oglala Sioux Tribe, who were raided by the DEA in relation to hemp farming.[23]

Books, films, and mediaEdit


  • Last Standing Woman (1997), novel.
  • All our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (1999), about the drive to reclaim tribal land for ownership
  • Recovering the Sacred: the Power of Naming and Claiming (2005), a book about traditional beliefs and practices.
  • The Militarization of Indian Country (2013)
  • The Sugar Bush (1999)
  • The Winona LaDuke Reader: A Collection of Essential Writings (2002)
  • All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (2016)
  • To Be A Water Protector: The Rise of the Wiindigoo Slayers (2020)

As co-author:

  • Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide
  • Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism
  • Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers on Community
  • Struggle for the Land: Native North American Resistance to Genocide, Ecocide, and Colonization
  • Cutting Corporate Welfare
  • Ojibwe Waasa Inaabidaa: We Look in All Directions
  • New Perspectives on Environmental Justice: Gender, Sexuality, and Activism
  • Make a Beautiful Way: The Wisdom of Native American Women
  • How to Say I Love You in Indian
  • Earth Meets Spirit: A Photographic Journey Through the Sacred Landscape
  • Otter Tail Review: Stories, Essays and Poems from Minnesota's Heartland
  • Daughters of Mother Earth: The Wisdom of Native American Women

Her editorials and essays have been published in national and international media.

Television and film appearances:

  • Appearance in the documentary film Anthem, directed by Shainee Gabel and Kristin Hahn.[24]
  • Appearance in the 1990 Canadian documentary film Uranium, directed by Magnus Isacsson.[25]
  • Appearance in the TV documentary The Main Stream.[26]
  • Appearance on The Colbert Report on June 12, 2008.[27]
  • Featured in 2017 full-length documentary First Daughter and the Black Snake, directed by Keri Pickett. Chronicles LaDuke's opposition against the Canadian-owned Enbridge plans to route a pipeline through land granted to her tribe in an 1855 Treaty.[28]

Legacy and honorsEdit

Marriage and familyEdit

LaDuke married Randy Kapashesit, a Cree leader, when working in opposition to a major hydroelectric project near Moose Factory, Ontario. They had two children together. Kapashesit died in 2013.

LaDuke and Kevin Gasco had a child in 2000. She has also cared for a niece and nephew for an extended period.

LaDuke's current partner is Don Wedll.

On November 9, 2008, LaDuke's house in Ponsford, Minnesota, burned down while she was in Boston. No one was injured, but all her personal property burned, including her extensive library and indigenous art and artifact collection.[32]

Electoral historyEdit

1996 electionEdit

1996 United States presidential election
Presidential candidate
Vice presidential candidate
Party Popular
% Electoral votes
Bill Clinton (incumbent)
Al Gore
Democratic 47,401,185 49.24% 379
Bob Dole
Jack Kemp
Republican 39,197,469 40.71% 159
Ross Perot
Pat Choate
Reform 8,085,294 8.40% 0
Ralph Nader
Winona LaDuke
Green 685,297 0.71% 0
Harry Browne
Jo Jorgensen
Libertarian 485,759 0.50% 0
Others 411,993 0.43% 0
Total 96,277,634 100% 538

2000 electionEdit

2000 United States presidential election
Presidential candidate
Vice presidential candidate
Party Popular
% Electoral votes
Al Gore
Joe Lieberman
Democratic 50,999,897 48.4% 266
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Republican 50,456,002 47.87% 271
Ralph Nader
Winona LaDuke
Green 2,882,955 2.74% 0
Pat Buchanan
Ezola Foster
Reform 448,895 0.43% 0
Harry Browne
Art Olivier
Libertarian 384,431 0.36% 0
Others 232,920 0.22% (abstention) 1
Total 105,421,423 100% 538

2016 electionEdit

Electoral vote for vice president

227 3 1 1 1 1 305
Kaine Warren Cantwell LaDuke Collins Fiorina Pence

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Amy Goodman, Winona LaDuke (December 7, 2018). Interview with Winona LaDuke. Democracy Now!. Event occurs at 15:20. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Winona LaDuke (August 25, 2016). "What Would Sitting Bull Do?". Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Peter Ritter, "The Party Crasher", Minneapolis News, October 11, 2000
  4. ^ "Willamette Week | "Winona Laduke" | July 19th, 2006". Archived from the original on August 27, 2006.
  5. ^ "About Us". Honor The Earth. Retrieved April 15, 2017.
  6. ^ Pemberton, Lisa. "The Evergreen State College graduates nearly 1,300 students". theolympian. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  7. ^ Amy Goodman, Winona LaDuke (September 4, 2016). Dakota Access Pipeline Company Attacks Native American Protesters with Dogs and Pepper Spray. Democracy Now!. Archived from the original on September 24, 2018. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  8. ^ "Audubon Convention 2019: Opening Address. Winona LaDuke" – via
  9. ^ "'They're Shoving A Pipe Down Our Throat': Inside Winona LaDuke's Fight Against Line 3". May 31, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  10. ^ Murphy, Hannah; Dunlea, Reed (April 23, 2020). "The Fight Against Minnesota's Line 3 Pipeline: Bill McKibben and Winona LaDuke in Conversation". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  11. ^ pm, Robin D. Fish | 3:00; Dec. 19; 2020. "LaDuke, Line 3 opponents stage first of 'weekly' protests at Enbridge office in Park Rapids". Duluth News Tribune. Retrieved June 11, 2021.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ ""Not Having It": Winona LaDuke on Mass Protest by Water Protectors to Halt Line 3 Pipeline in Minnesota". Democracy Now!. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  13. ^ "Winona LaDuke endorsement of John Kerry for president". October 20, 2004. Archived from the original on December 24, 2013. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  14. ^ "LaDuke and the lessons she learned with Nader". Minnesota Post. May 22, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  15. ^ "Winona LaDuke on Presidential Politics (7:41)". Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  16. ^ "How Faith Spotted Eagle became the first Native American to win an electoral vote for president". LA Times. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  17. ^ "Ricing Time: Harvesting on the Lakes of White Earth", National Public Radio. November 12, 2004.
  18. ^ "In These Times- The Renaissance of Tribal Hemp".
  19. ^ "Winona LaDuke announces her Hemp and Heritage Farm is coming alive -". Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  20. ^ "Intelligent and idealistic, Winona LaDuke turns to hemp farming, solar power to jump-start the 'next economy'". Star Tribune. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  21. ^ "Hess Scholar in Residence Winona LaDuke Says We Must Take the "Green Path" to Restore Our Environment and Economy". CUNY Newswire. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  22. ^ "Winona LaDuke: Consider marijuana and hemp in Indian Country". Indianz. Retrieved October 17, 2020.
  23. ^ "Winona LaDuke: Consider Marijuana and Hemp for Indian Country". Indianz. March 5, 2015.
  24. ^ Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics (2017). "Winona LaDuke". Iowa State University Archives of Women's Political Communication. Archived from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  25. ^ Canada, National Film Board of, Uranium, retrieved January 5, 2020
  26. ^, Global Reach Internet Productions, LLC – Ames, IA -. "Winona LaDuke – Women's Political Communication Archives". Archived from the original on February 1, 2017. Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  27. ^ LaDuke on The Colbert Report,
  28. ^ "Urgent Cinema: Winona LaDuke and the Enbridge Pipeline". Walker Art Center. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  29. ^ LaDuke, WinonaNational Women's Hall of Fame
  30. ^ "Day Undergraduate Ceremony – Commencement". Archived from the original on June 30, 2016. Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  31. ^ "Indigenous Activist Winona LaDuke Wins Spendlove Prize – UC Merced". Retrieved January 5, 2018.
  32. ^ "Winona LaDuke to rebuild home destroyed by fire". News from Indian Country. November 17, 2008. Retrieved November 17, 2008.

Further readingEdit

  • Andrews, Max (Ed.), Land, Art: A Cultural Ecology Handbook. London, Royal Society of Arts, 2006, ISBN 978-0-901469-57-1. Interview with Winona LaDuke

External linksEdit

Party political offices
First Green nominee for Vice President of the United States
1996, 2000
Succeeded by