Winona LaDuke, founder of the Honor the Earth program and Vice Presidential nominee for the Green Party, was greeted by a full house in the Redfern Arts Center’s Alumni Recital Hall on Nov. 29 as she discussed some of the most recent information on the situation at Standing Rock in North Dakota.
Having first-hand experience combatting oil corporations, as well as at Standing Rock, LaDuke focused part of her discussion on ways our culture can transition out of what she calls “The Fossil Fuel Era.”
Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at Keene State Dr. Sara Hottinger said, “The work she is doing is incredible and has had such a huge impact…the fact she has been able to gather people together to fight off corporate power is huge.”
LaDuke is a Native American and lives on the White Earth Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, which borders North Dakota. She traveled to Standing Rock to help prevent the Dakota Access Pipeline shortly after overcoming the Sandpiper Pipeline that threatened her own reservation.
Dr. Hottinger said, “When it comes to communities of color, there has been a lot of abuse in the past and I think what we are seeing at Standing Rock is a continuation of some of that, particularly environmental abuse.”
A repeated phrase in LaDuke’s presentation was, “I want to live in a society where the rights of corporations do not proceed the rights of people.”
Dr. Hottinger said that what really resonated with her from the discussion was the idea of “an infrastructure for people, not for companies.”
LaDuke remained optimistic saying that on Jan. 1, a number of contracts for the Dakota Access Pipeline expire and she hopes some of the corporations backing and funding the project will drop their contracts during renegotiation.
As audience and community member Rebecca Carter said, “The economic piece to this discussion was mind-blowing. How much money is being put into these pipelines is absurd… there are miles of pipeline that haven’t been updated in decades that can now harm the environment.”
Dr. Hottinger said, “If you invested that much money into solar or wind power, especially on those upper Midwest reservations where there is so much wind, it would just make so much sense.”
LaDuke said she hopes that at the end of all of this, Standing Rock will be able to get two megawatt wind turbines because they have plenty of wind to offer the move into environmental and sustainable energy.
Dr. Hottinger said LaDuke brings creativity and humor to the work that she does and she has an ability to rally a group of people, which can be really important.
Carter said, “I found the presentation really interesting…plus [LaDuke] had a nice humor to add to such a serious topic.”
The audience celebrated LaDuke’s presence with a standing ovation after the end of her lecture, as well as an open discussion with the audience in the closing 20 minutes.
The discussion was paired with the opening of the Honor the Earth the Art of Resistance Exhibit that can be found at the Mariposa Museum in Peterborough, New Hampshire, and features artwork by 20 Native American artists. It will remain on display until Feb. 26, 2017.
Fletcher Rice can be contacted at email@example.com