Winona LaDuke (b. 1959) is a Native American activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer. In 1996 and 2000, she ran for election to the office of Vice President of the United States as the nominee of the United States Green Party, on the ticket headed by Ralph Nader.
LaDuke was born in Los Angeles, California to Vincent and Betty LaDuke. Her father was an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe or "Chippewa") from an Indian reservation of Minnesota. He was an actor with supporting roles in Western movies, an activist, a writer, and at the end of his life, a spiritual guru under the name Sun Bear. Her mother was a Jewish artist, employed as an art professor at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon. LaDuke is the mother of three.
LaDuke was raised in Ashland , but after graduating from Harvard in 1982 with a degree in rural economic development, she accepted a job as principal of the high school of the White Earth Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota. She soon became an activist, involved in the struggle to recover lands promised to the Ojibwe by an 1867 treaty. She helped the Ojibwe buy back thousands of acres of ancestral land.
LaDuke was named Woman of the Year by Ms. Magazine in 1997 and won the Reebok Human Rights Award in 1998. She is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Minnesota, the Indigenous Women's Network, and Honor the Earth.
LaDuke is the author of the novel Last Standing Woman (1997), the non-fiction book All our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (1999), and Recovering the Sacred: the Power of Naming and Claiming (2005), a book about traditional beliefs and practices.
She appeared in the documentary film Anthem, directed by Shainee Gabel and Kristin Hahn. The film was first released in the United States on July 25, 1997. Both directors were awarded by the 1997 Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival. LaDuke also appeared in the TV documentary The Main Stream, first released on December 17, 2002. The film was directed by Roger Weisberg who is better known for winning the 2002 Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject as director of Why Can't We Be a Family Again?.
LaDuke appeared as an actor in the film Skins, first released on January 14, 2002. The film depicted the problems of unemployment, alcoholism and domestic violence within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation through the eyes of two Lakota Sioux Native American brothers. The main fictional characters were police detective Rudy Yellow Lodge (Eric Schweig) and his brother Mogie Yellow Lodge (Graham Greene) the latter with an apparent tendency toward self-destruction. LaDuke played secondary character Rose Two Buffalo. The film was awarded the 2003 Prism Award. Graham Green won the Best Actor Award of the 2002 Tokyo International Film Festival and was nominated for a Best Male Lead award in the 2003 Independent Spirit Awards.
In the 2004 primary elections, LaDuke endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. She later endorsed John Kerry for president in the general election.
“ There is no social-change fairy. There is only change made by the hands of individuals. ”
“ We don't want a bigger piece of the pie. We want a different pie. ”