Laduke Calls for New Paradigm

Story By: Patrick Henslee and Jeffery Gilkison

International activist focuses attention back on the environment and the economy.

There are people in this world whose very presence is a call to action, and Winona LaDuke is one of them. The two-time vice presidential candidate, author and activist had a message at the Old Administration Auditorium on November 18: Time to green up.
“The essence of the problem is about consumption, recognizing that a society that consumes one-third of the world’s resources is unsustainable,” LaDuke said. “This level of consumption requires constant intervention into other people’s lands. That’s what’s going on.”
She addressed the current state of the U.S. as well as her perceived lack of public environmental awareness, economic inefficiency and the projects she’s involved in to help recover the prosperity the U.S. basked in long ago. Her proactive message was clear and concise.
“In this moment of time that we are in, perhaps the solution to the problems we face is not in the paradigm which created them. It is time to end that paradigm,” LaDuke said.
She believes that the abundance of issues that threaten the U.S and its people are caused by the very solutions that have been in place for too long. As the Earth decays, our memory of what it once was decays with it.
“When America was great, they had 50 million buffalo,” LaDuke said. “You could drink the water out of every river and every lake. That’s when America was great.”

LaDuke says production flaws are a cause for the deterioration of the once bountiful land. Processes like blowing up the tops of the Appalachian Mountains for coal and drilling 20,000 feet under the sea to drain the earth of its oil are a part of extreme extraction .

In attempts to find modern and efficient processes to harvest resources, humans have set themselves up for catastrophe, she said.

“I don’t know which state or which tribe or which country has the budget for climate change-related disasters. None of us do,” said LaDuke.

“If you just take a look at who’s the last served in a catastrophe, that’d be us [people of color],” she said.

According to LaDuke, corporate and industrial practices lead to such catastrophes, but they themselves don’t feel the effects of their actions. Therefore, it’s the public’s obligation to do what’s necessary and stand for what they think is right.

“Sometimes you’ve got to do something really uncomfortable like go stand in front of a bunch of screaming haters,” she said.

“Just stand there, because someone has to say, ‘No, you’re wrong, and we’re not afraid of you because we are water protectors,’” said LaDuke, alluding to the activist practice of combating federal infiltration of water systems held sacred to North American Indigenous communities.

She told the crowd to take pride in standing up for the preservation of land and nature. The responsibility is solely on the shoulders of this generation, and it’s primed for success.

“We are the social imagination of the next world. That is what we dream, that is what we do,” said LaDuke.

She believes that this generation is comprised of people that are passionate and invested in correcting the course the U.S. has set for itself, and they all are able to do so.