Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Constituency For The Land: Winona Laduke

Transcript from an interview with the Native American and environmental activist who became Ralph Nader's vice-presidential candidate on the Green ticket, in 2000, from the weekly radio program, Living On Earth. There's a link to the whole audio segment here.
Interviewer Steve Curwood for LOE: When it comes to U.S. energy policy and Native Americans, the record's pretty poor. Uranium and coal mining have brought pollution to native communities and lands - but relatively few jobs - and rising sea waters due to fossil fuel consumption are forcing native villages in Alaska to abandon their coastal lands.

But now that Barack Obama has brought his promise of a lean, clean economy to the White House, many tribes are feeling hopeful. So hopeful, in fact, that a green policy statement representing more than 200 tribes and tribal organizations has been submitted to the Obama team.

Winona LaDuke is a rural development economist and writer - you might know her as Ralph Nader's running mate on the Green Party ticket in the 2000 presidential elections. She now directs Honor the Earth, a non-profit that helped draw up the green petition, which outlines what Native America needs from the Obama administration, and what the Obama administration needs from Native America.
The following comes right at the conclusion of the interview, and to my mind illustrates how it is not only possible but also necessary to regard the world in an epistemologically consistent scientific way while still granting the possibility of the mutability of the metaphor.
CURWOOD: Winona LaDuke, you once very famously said, and I quote "I would like to see as many people patriotic to a land as I have seen patriotic to a flag." How do you feel about this being the time for that sort of patriotism?

LADUKE: I think that the present time is good. My youngest son, his name is Gwaconamont Gasko (sp). And Gwaconamont in our language means when the wind shifts. And that is what is happening now; the wind is shifting. And we have a chance to do something great for the generations that have not yet arrived here. You know, we've battled for years to create a society which is not based on conquest, but is based on survival. And the Obama administration, with the intersection between the realities of a shrinking, unsustainable economy, climate change, fuel, poverty and peak oil, we have the chance to make an economy that will reaffirm a relationship to the land. And so, I'm very optimistic. The next economy will not affect our sacred sites, our rivers, our lakes, our mountains, because the next economy will not require their consumption.

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