Winona LaDuke visited the
Renewable Energy class on February 19. Winona
is a nationally known Native American environmental activist and political
leader who ran with Ralph Nader in the 1996 and 2000
presidential races. She has written All
Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life, and is Program Director for
the Honor the Earth Fund.
Honor the Earth is currently coordinating the installation
of wind generator systems on the Pine Ridge Reservation at KILI radio station
and on Alex White Plume’s land north of Manderson. Winona
came to Pine Ridge for meetings to further the progress of these wind systems
and graciously agreed to speak to the Renewable Energy class in Rapid
City, and by pictel to the
student class at Manderson.
We were all interested to learn about Winona’s
early years of successful activism against destructive and exploitative uranium
mining on reservations around the country.
She entertained us with stories of horse racing during festivities at
Alex White Plume’s farm. She also told
us of a solar hot air system she had learned of and used here on the Pine Ridge
Reservation and in Minnesota in
which aluminum cans are cut in half and used as a solar collector inside an
insulated box. The hot air collected
inside the box is blown into the home through ducts to warm the house in
winter. She promised to send us the
plans for the “beer can solar hot air system” so that we could make it ourselves.
encouraged the students present, Dusty Mousseaux,
Valerie Janis, and Zannita Fast Horse to become
active in their communities, advocating for a renewable energy policy and energy-efficient
housing guidelines for new construction on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She also warned of the need to be constantly
vigilant about the extractive corporate energy companies who target reservation
lands with schemes for dumping toxic wastes or spoiling the earth with promises
of money and jobs.
We were all grateful for the opportunity to meet Winona and
her assistants Natalie and Stone. We
will be following the progress of the wind system projects at KILI and Alex
White Plume’s and look forward to seeing the abundant
natural prairie winds of South Dakota
produce clean, renewable power for the people of Pine Ridge.