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.

 

 

Winona 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.