Winona LaDuke is proud of who she is. She is an American. But her pride stems more from her affinity to her Native American heritage than the fact that she was born within US borders. LaDuke is an Anishinaabeg, of the Mississippi Band of Anishinaabeg, located at White Earth reservation in Minnesota.
The story of LaDuke's life isn't one strewn with melodramatic encounters or riddled with scenes of cinematic brilliance. It is, however, a lively story - one that hasn't ended – filled with the love of family and good friends, pride for one's history and tradition, finding dreams and then summoning the brave strength that is required to pursue those dreams despite all opposition.
It all began once upon a time in 1959. LaDuke was born in Los Angeles, California. Her father is an Anishinaabeg and her mother, a Russian Jew. Winona LaDuke, however, was not raised in sunny California. She grew up in the small town of Ashland, Oregon, a point that she emphasizes because her upbringing is constantly misconstrued.
At the risk of sounding trite, Winona LaDuke came from humble beginnings and her origins have affected the way she looks at herself as well as how she lives today. LaDuke is an activist and has been called so countless times. But it is not the only role she fills. It is not what she calls herself. Winona LaDuke calls herself a parent and being an activist is merely another form of parenting. Her own parents have taught her much about her native roots as well as activism. Born into a political family during the Vietnam War, LaDuke was exposed to much anti-war activism. Her parents were protesters of war. LaDuke learned much about her Indian heritage as a child but most of what she learned came from her family. As she grew, LaDuke would embrace more of her Native American culture on her own and through other Indians.
As a teenager, LaDuke further her experienced with Native American activism by addressing the United Nations. She presented her research mining issues and reservations to the International Indian Treaty Council. After college, LaDuke even met fellow Native American activists who encouraged her takes steps to mitigate and solve the many problematic issues that Native Americans face living as a minority in America.
Taking her experiences and the advice she has received from her colleagues, Winona LaDuke has made her way to become one of leading Native American rights activists of our age. LaDuke is a member of various organizations that strive to gain rights for indigenous peoples and preserve the environment. Her goals are noble as well as numerous, including to regain stolen Native American lands, promote better education and health, and make sure that the future of our world is sustainable. She travels all over the country, stirring the minds of millions with her speeches on environmentalism and the necessity of preserving ancestral lands.
LaDuke ran for vice president for the Green Party in 1996 and 2000, with Ralph Nadar, and in 2004, she endorsed John Kerry’s campaign. Although she has no current plans to campaign again, Winona LaDuke has made her mark on all of those who are fortunate enough to see, hear, and know her. She is also a novelist, with her latest book coming out in July of 2005 called Recovering the Sacred. LaDuke has written quite a few books already, most of which dealing with Native American rights and struggles. She is an inspiring woman and a tireless fighter. She’s even the mother of five and lives in Minnesota when she’s not on the road. An active environmentalist, economist, novelist, and politician, Winona LaDuke seems to have done it all. But as LaDuke says, all she really is is an “active parent”.