LaDuke speaks about roots

LaDuke speaks about roots

  • American Indian discusses racial and environmental problems
  • One of the issues addressed in her speech was environmental awareness, which included the hazards of dioxins.

    Dioxins are chemicals in chlorine bleach and pesticides. They change into more than 200 different dangerous compounds when these products are incinerated.

    LaDuke said almost everyone is carrying a high level of dioxin in their body -- more than 500 times the acceptable rate. In women, it is linked to breast cancer, and in men, it is linked to testicular cancer and testicular shrinkage, she said.

    "My friend Tom Bulltooth once said, 'Money will flow like water to the environment when white men realize their testicles are shrinking,'" LaDuke said.

    LaDuke also addressed concerns about public policy in her speech. She received applause from the audience when she said public policy should not be controlled by people of privilege.

    She said public policy should be made by all of us.

    LaDuke is the campaign director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, a reservation-based land acquisition and an environmental and cultural organization, dedicated to saving lands owned by American Indians and preventing environmental injustices.

    "Our struggle, fundamentally, is to resolve who has the right to determine what happens to your community," she said. "These struggles by the grass roots native organizations are very well struggles to develop the future of America," LaDuke said.

    One of the issues LaDuke said White Earth is fighting against is a government restriction in northern Minnesota called the Fish Consumption Advisory. This advisory recommends any women of child bearing age to eat only one fish per week, and if a woman is pregnant, she cannot eat any fish.

    The fish in northern Minnesota are contaminated with mercury from power plants and generators near the lakes.

    "This is how my community and my family eats. The Fish Consumption Advisory is not set up for people like us. My position is that we go out and argue with the state of Minnesota and the policy makers that this kind of environmental regulation has to consider more poor people, more basic people, your hard workers. The environmental regulations have to be made for someone else," she said.

    Although LaDuke's lecture stressed universal issues, part of her speech addressed the American Indian communities in Arizona.

    She said she tries to go to where there are native students and a large native community.

    "Quite often as a (American Indian) student of color, I remember feeling as though I was the cause of problems, like when they would refer to the 'Indian problem.' I would feel like I was a problem. You know, we need a broader analysis. Actually, there isn't an Indian problem, there is a problem with American politics," LaDuke said.

    Wendy Roe, GPSPAA member, said LaDuke's American Indian heritage and ability to relate to the Indian community was one of the reasons she was invited to campus, since there is such a large native community in Arizona. Students of all ethnic groups gained from LaDuke's speech.

    "I took with me from Winona's speech the feeling that she is one of the few people that has the courage to bring important issues, like social injustice, to the forefront," Karen Ziemski, GPSPAA member, said.

    In her speech LaDuke encouraged people not to just sit around. She said people should get involved in whatever area they can.

    "I believe in the 'pebble in the pond' analysis," LaDuke said. "The only reason we have something today is because someone stood up and fought for it."

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