White Earth Land Recovery Project

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It’s time to call the Indian Wars to an end…

It’s time to call the Indian Wars to an end

[An MPRnews Commentary]
by Winona LaDuke
May 25, 2011

That the death of Osama bin Laden was relayed with the words “Geronimo EKIA [Enemy Killed in Action]” prompted a din of protest in the halls of Congress.

Harlan Geronimo, a great-grandson of Apache Chief Geronimo and an Army veteran of two tours in Vietnam, asked for a formal apology. He called the Pentagon’s decision to use the code name Geronimo a “grievous insult.”

His call for an apology was joined by most major Native American organizations. The Onondaga nation stated, “This continues to personify the original peoples of North America as enemies and savages. … The U.S. military leadership should have known better.”

It is an ironic moment in history. A hundred years after Geronimo’s death at Fort Sill, Okla. — where he died after 27 years as a prisoner of war, because he was Apache — this great patriot is accorded little peace.

The analogy, from a military perspective, is interesting. More than 5,500 military personnel were engaged in a 13-year pursuit of the Apache chief. He traveled with his community, including 35 men and 108 women and children, who in the end surrendered in exhaustion and were met with promises that were never fulfilled. It was one of the most expensive and shameful of the Indian Wars.

A hundred years later, similarly exorbitant amounts of both time and money have been spent finding Osama bin Laden, but that is where the analogy ends. Geronimo was a true patriot, his battles were in defense of his land, and he was a hero. The coupling of his name with the most vilified enemy of America in this millennium is dangerous ground.

But to the military, it is familiar ground. Native nomenclature in U.S. military affairs is widespread. FromApache Longbow andBlack Hawk helicopters toTomahawk missiles, the machinery of war has many Native names.

In a war zone, to leave the base is to “go off the reservation.” To move farther away is to go into “Indian territory.” Indeed, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visitedFort Carson in 2008 (named after the infamous Indian killer,Kit Carson). There, he instructed the troops to “live up to the legend of Kit Carson … fighting terrorists in the mountains of Afghanistan, hunting the remnants of the deadly regime in Iraq, working with local populations to help secure victory. And every one of you is like Kit Carson.”

It may be time to end the Indian Wars.

Many military bases have been carved out of reservations and Indian territory, and at least 19 reservations are named after forts themselves (Fort Berthold, Fort Peck and Fort McDermitt among them).

The U.S. military has had a huge ecological impact on Native Hawaiian lands, ranging fromKaho’olawe toPohakuloa. The former is an entire island seized by the military in 1945, and the latter is being seized today, for the expansion of theStryker base. The U.S. military has detonated thousands of atomic weapons inWestern Shoshone territory and the Pacific, and until recently, Schofield Barracks in Honolulu was riddled with deadlydepleted uranium waste.

Despite these and other impacts, Native people enlist in the U.S. military in high numbers, and have the highest rate of living veterans of any community. These people deserve respect.

It’s been 100 years since Geronimo passed to the next world. It would seem that it is time to rethink the military’s use of terms like “Geronimo EKIA” and “the reservation.” It is indeed time to bring the Indian Wars to a close.

[View additional comments to this commentary at: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/05/25/laduke/]


Justice Embodied: Bearing the future to protect the Earth

Justice Embodied: Bearing the future to protect the Earth

(An interesting article from The Dominion- news from the grassroots by Sandra Cuffe, dated May 23, 2011)

“VANCOUVER—A boy found his younger brother’s body hanging in the basement. Another mine passed the environmental review process. More women are going missing and are murdered. The search for a nuclear waste site continues.

Stories told by the media are presented as a series of disconnected incidents and issues. Most governments, federal or otherwise, work in a similar framework of disconnection, whether to determine jurisdiction or to deflect accountability. Public discussion often separates reality into compartments.

The discourse of many groups and campaigns working on environmental and climate issues explicitly rejects this disconnected perspective. However, that same discourse has been questioned for its failure to make many other connections that Indigenous peoples, women and others have been pointing out for decades…”  The article continues…

Keepers of the seeds…

Keepers of the seeds: Native farmers and gardeners are working to preserve their agricultural heritage.

Dateline: Tuesday, May 17, 2011

by Winona LaDuke

For 14 years, Caroline Chartrand, a Metis woman who recently traveled from Winnipeg, Canada, to the 8th annual Great Lakes Indigenous Farming Conference, has been looking for the heritage seeds of her people. It is believed that in the 1800s, the Metis grew some 120 distinct seed varieties in the Red River area of Canada. Of those, Caroline says, “We ended up finding about 20 so far.”

In Canada, three-quarters of all the crop varieties that existed before the 20th century are extinct. And, of the remaining quarter, only 10 percent are available commercially from Canadian seed companies (the remainder are held by gardeners and families). Over 64 percent of the commercially held seeds are offered by only one company; if those varieties are dropped, the seeds may be lost.

That’s the reason Caroline and about 100 other indigenous farmers and gardeners — along with students and community members — gathered in March on the White Earth reservation in Northern Minnesota to share knowledge, stories, and, of course, seeds.

In Canada, three-quarters of all the crop varieties that existed before the 20th century are extinct. A recent article by a prominent Canadian writer suggested that agriculture in Canada began with the arrival of Europeans. Caroline had to ask her, “What about all that agriculture before then?”

Caroline is a committed grower in the effort to recover northern Ojibwe corn varieties that once grew l00 miles north of Winnipeg — the northernmost known corn crop in the world. “That’s some adaptable corn,” said one of the conference participants said. “And,” added Betsy McDougall of Turtle Mountain, “We Ojibwes, Metis, and Crees must have been really good farmers.”

Indigenous farmers from the Winnebago reservation in Nebraska shared their struggles with genetically modified organisms (GMOs)encroaching on their fields, threatening to alter and potentially sterilize open-pollinated corn. While native corn varieties are richer in protein and much more resilient to climate change, they are not immune to GMO contamination. The advice shared amongst farmers was to eat from the edges and save seed from the middle, where corn is least likely to be affected by cross-pollination.

The experiences of our ancestors offer us wisdom for surviving today’s crises.

Despite the challenges, native farmers are having success in preserving the resilient crops that sustained their ancestors.

“Those seeds are the old ways. They gave our ancestors life for all those years,” said Frank Alegria, Sr. The son of migrant farm workers, Frank has been gardening since he could walk and farming on the Menominee reservation in Wisconsin since he was sixteen. Now an elder, he continues to grow native varieties, including an 850-year-old squash variety found in an archaeological dig near the Wisconsin border.

Deb Echohawk told the story of the sacred corn seeds of the Pawnee. By combining efforts with the descendants of settlers who live in the traditional Pawnee homelands in Nebraska, the Pawnee are recovering varieties thought to be lost forever. Deb and others have been formally recognized as keepers of the seeds.

John Torgrimson, executive director of Seed Savers Exchange, the nation’s largest non-governmental seed bank, talked about the organization’s humble beginning as a campout by a small group of committed individuals in Decorah, Iowa. More than 35 years later, they now preserve and grow out over 25,000 varieties of unique vegetables, fruits, grasses, and even a heritage cow breed at their 890 acre Heritage Farm.

Likewise, the White Earth Land Recovery Project, together with North Dakota State University, is working with a number of tribal members and local farmers to grow out five or six corn varieties adapted for the region, including white, pink, and black varieties. One farmer chuckled as he mentioned seeing animals strut past the more abundant GMO corn to feast on the native variety.

One of the outcomes of the conference was a working group that will plan a regional seed library. At the table were tribal members from White Earth, Red Lake, Leech Lake, Bad River, Menominee, Standing Rock Lakota, the Winnebago of Nebraska, and other reservations, as well as the Pawnee tribe’s keeper of seeds and the executive directors of Seed Savers Exchange and Seeds of Diversity (Canada). Many others joined the discussion, including a Midwest coordinator for USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, local allied growers, representatives from University of Minnesota, and various tribal colleges.

If you’d like to take part in the ongoing discussion and visioning of a Great Lakes Seed Library, join the Northern Indigenous Seed Sovereignty group by sending an emailing to the address below.

Winona LaDuke wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions. A contributing editor to YES! Magazine, Winona is an author and activist who writes extensively on native and environmental issues. Her most recent book is Recovering the Sacred. She is an Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) enrolled member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg who lives and works on the White Earth Reservations.

  Send an email to Northern Indigenous Seed Sovereignty
  Original article


Winona LaDuke Explores The Militarization of Indian Country From Geronimo to Bin Laden

Excerpts of a Huffington Post article by Georgianne Nienaber (Investigative journalist, author, Haiti relief worker), posted 5/12/2011  

bookcover for Militarization of Indian Country (Author: Winona LaDuke)

“…Completed in February 2011, the book is currently at press and comes on the heels of the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, also known as “Geronimo EKIA” (Enemy Killed in Action).

“…In it she uses considerable scholarly prowess to examine how and why Native culture has become inextricably entwined with military institutions.

“…In a transcript of an interview with Amy Goodman of ‘Democracy Now,’ LaDuke charges this terminology and the use of the code name ‘Geronimo’ for bin Laden represent ‘the continuation of the wars against indigenous people.’

“…The Militarization of Indian Country examines in dreadful detail how the military has poisoned, murdered, and exterminated parts of indigenous populations. It is carefully organized into sections examining the deep ties between the military and indigenous people, how the economy drives the military and vice-versa, the military’s appropriation of Indian lands, and a somewhat hopeful prognosis for future relations if America rethinks her priorities.

“…LaDuke challenges the reader to grasp the disconnect inherent in the stereotype of Indian warriors as ‘bloodthirsty killers.’ “There are critical differences, however, between a war fought to defend the people and the land, and a war fought to create or sustain an empire, to impose colonial rule on an unwilling population,” LaDuke says.

“…In LaDuke’s narrative, the broken treaties, poisoned waters, rivers of tears, forced death marches and massacres such as the one at Wounded Knee serve to riddle the reader with guilt. It is not the guilt of immediate responsibility, but guilt that comes from realizing that ignorance breeds culpability.


The Militarization of Indian Country reflects a resurgence of the classic warrior perspective in the great spiritual traditions of Indigenous warriors. While "The Art of War" is unmatched in its Taoism principles... (this is) a book about Winona LaDuke's love for the Warriors of Peace -- Indigenous ways of understanding the roots of racism, violence, conflict, resolution and reconciliation.

LaDuke credits Portland editor Sean Cruz with providing valuable research and editing skills.

For more information and to order advance copies of The Militarization of Indian Country, please contact Honor The Earth at info@honorearth.org.

Winona LaDuke’s book release: “The Militarization of Indian Country”

LaDuke’s Earth Day Observations Resonate

 From: Indian Country Today

By Carol Berry April 22, 2011

DENVER —Praising a draft United Nations treaty that would confer protections for Mother Earth, noted activist Winona LaDuke, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, also gave an Earth Day plug for indigenous sustainability and “creating something that is post-empire.”

The American Indian activist and author spoke at the University of Colorado Denver for an early commemoration of Earth Day 2011, whose theme this year is A Billion Acts of Green, “our people-powered campaign to generate a billion acts of environmental service and advocacy before Rio +20,” according to the site.

For her part, LaDuke drew attention to some decidedly un-green practices, pointing out that the American economy consumes from a fourth to a third of the world’s resources but that there is “a vast amount of waste” in the petroleum economy that distorts the oft-repeated argument that renewable energy can’t keep up with demand.

“But why try?” LaDuke queried, adding that “empire is inefficient.” She pointed out that 90 percent of energy from the common light bulb is in the form of heat and only 10 percent is light. “It’s a false argument that we can’t meet demand without buttressing an inefficient system.”

Food security is a problem when food travels an average of 1,546 miles from producer to dinner table, the price of gas goes up and food cultivation may require 15 times more energy to produce than is consumed, she said.

Although she does not hate the military and believes veterans should be treated with honor and dignity, LaDuke does “despise militarization because those who are most likely to be impacted or killed by the military are civilian non-combatants” and because toxins and chemicals have severely impacted Indian lands, she said in the preface of a book she has co-written with Sean Cruz, The Militarization of Indian Country, put out by Honor the Earth, an organization that works internationally on issues of environmental justice and sustainability. She is the group’s executive director.

The two-time vice presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket also said she is considering another run for office—this time for tribal council on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, a move that would be compatible with her belief that change is local—and probably inevitable.

“I’m proud of the casino economy, but if you can’t feed yourself, I don’t know if you can be sovereign again,” said LaDuke.

LaDuke said a study on her reservation showed that 14 percent of spending for food was on-reservation, primarily at convenience stores, but 86 per cent went off-reservation to big-box markets or other food sources; because half of total spending goes outside reservation boundaries, the economy is “systemically flawed” and additional wages would not be a solution.

The answer is “re-localizing food and energy systems to have control over the economy and health in the face of rising food uncertainty,” she said, noting that one-third of people on her reservation have diabetes and half of the children are obese by the eighth grade.

LaDuke recalled that her late father told her, “Winona, you’re a smart young woman, but I don’t want to hear your philosophy if you can’t grow corn.”

Today she grows heirloom varieties of corn, as well as squash and other food crops, and harvests wild rice in an on-reservation food production enterprise that also includes maple syrup.

She touted the nutritional and traditional value of the older corn varieties, which include Bear Island Flint Corn, Seneca Pink Lady Flour Corn (“I grow it because it’s pretty,” she said), and Pawnee Eagle Corn, grown by Pawnee people living near Kearney, Nebraska, before their removal to Oklahoma. The corn, languishing further south, was returned to Nebraska for an indigenous garden at the Gateway Museum, where it flourished.

She also talked about climate change, noting that a two-degree increase in average temperatures in the northern latitudes could mean rising oceans and relocating Native villages, despite the fact that the cost of one such relocation was $400 million.

The U.S. has consumed 60 percent of its known oil reserves, and the vast tar sands in Canada are the “single largest industrial project in world history,” mining a Lake Superior-size area for the oil trapped in sand and clay and then planning to send it via the TransCanada Pipeline to Nebraska, where ranchers and legislators fear pipeline spills and the contamination of a shallow aquifer.

She was introduced by Glenn Morris, associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado Denver, who hosted her appearance, and the presentation itself was sponsored by American Indian Student Services of UC-Denver, Metropolitan State College and Community College of Denver.

Source: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2011/04/ladukes-earth-day-observations-resonate/

Good Article on “Migizi”

Eagles: Majestic, symbolic thieves

“Ben Franklin thought eagles were nothing but vile thieves and therefore unworthy to be the national symbol. Ole Ben said, “For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.”

“I was able to witness a bald eagle in his thievery once, and it was one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen in over 40 years of outdoors adventures. I was paddling up the Isabella River in the BWCAW with a group of gents when we rounded a bend and saw a sea gull eating a fish on a rock.”
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Tar Sands Mine Action – Greenpeace

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Tar Sands Mine Action – Greenpeace
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