Winona LaDuke voiced her ideas on the environment, the war, politics, poverty and Native Americans’ struggles when she visited CSU on Thursday during a Bridges to the Future sponsored event.
Nearly 500 people attended LaDuke’s main presentation in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom. LaDuke is an author and activist who ran for vice president in the 1996 and 2000 presidential campaigns alongside Ralph Nader.
The topic LaDuke addressed in most detail during her speech was “Native peoples, biodiversity and our collective soul.” She related this subject to raising children; as a mother of three who lives on the White Earth Native American Reservation with eight kids in her household, LaDuke highlighted three basic values she teaches her children: don’t steal, don’t be greedy and pick up one mess before you make another.
“You tell your kids one thing then you look out there and see there’s nothing that resembles that in public policy,” LaDuke said.
The activist compared these values to ones she said our government should posses by discussing the over-consumption of our society, the use of nuclear energy when alternative energy sources are available and the government’s neglect of Native Americans.
“Those who steal the land are those who make the law,” LaDuke said. She continued to provide specific examples and solutions to problems that she works through activism to educate people about.
Hundreds of community members, faculty, staff and CSU students filled the seats in the ballroom to hear what LaDuke had to say.
“I came…to benefit from a better understanding of the issues of Native American peoples,” said David Neulander, a junior political science major who attended the event.
Irene Vernon, director of the Center for Applied Studies in American Ethnicity, introduced LaDuke, saying CSU was honored to have her speak.
LaDuke also led two more discussion sessions earlier Thursday, one an open forum with the campus community. Around 60 students, faculty members and others met in the student center Longs Peak Lounge to ask questions of the Native American activist in a smaller setting.
At this discussion, LaDuke said her main goals in her activism are energy policy and Native American policy. She travels across the country encouraging changes like putting up wind towers in communities to conserve energy and lessening consumption. She said using wind power is a “question of political will.”
“The resource doesn’t cost you anything,” she said, “and you don’t even have to invade a country to get it.”
At this smaller forum she also talked about the current war with Iraq, expressing opposition to the war and speculation about President Bush’s motives.
“To pretend that this war is not about oil is a huge denial,” LaDuke said.
The evening program also included an award ceremony, where CASAE as well as the Center for Teaching and Learning presented awards for “campus sustainability” and “community commitment” to CSU students, faculty and staff.
“When the world is faced with such…death and destruction,” said Bill Thompson, the director of the CTL, “these awardees are people of hope.”
LaDuke said she plans to come back to Fort Collins on April 19 with the Indigo Girls to raise money for the Honor the Earth program, which raises public support and money for Native American environmental groups.