Solving problems begins at homeThe problems facing our nation can’t be solved in Washington, D.C., according to Winona LaDuke, economist, author and two-time vice presidential candidate for the Green Party. The solution starts at home. “You’re either at the table or on the menu,” said LaDuke, a member of the White Earth band of Anishinabe, during a speech Thursday at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
The problems facing our nation can’t be solved in Washington, D.C., according to Winona LaDuke, economist, author and two-time vice presidential candidate for the Green Party. The solution starts at home.
“You’re either at the table or on the menu,” said LaDuke, a member of the White Earth band of Anishinabe, during a speech Thursday at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
She focused on three main issues — climate change, extreme energy addiction and the rising cost to transport food.
“I’d really like to get people to hang around another thousand years,” LaDuke said. “And so the question is how are we going to do that?”
People today have two paths in front of them, one well-worn and scorched, the other green and less traveled.
“We’re the ones who can keep them from putting a mine in, you know, over there in our watershed, which is the wrong thing to do,” she said. “We’re the ones that can keep them from combusting the planet to oblivion. We’re the ones that can keep them from changing the direction of any more rivers or blowing off the top of mountains, yeah. Or genetically engineering the world’s food chain … what a great spiritual opportunity that is, to be those people, to do the right thing.”
Climate change topped her list.
“Unless you’ve been watching too much Fox News, this is reality,” said LaDuke, a rural development economist who works with tribes. “The temperatures are going up.” Ice is melting, carbon is raising ocean acidity, and it is predicted that by 2020 approximately 20 percent of the world’s gross domestic product will be spent on climate-related disasters.
“We have no plan for this one,” she said.
Energy dependence on fossil fuels is another big problem. Like addicts, LaDuke said, we do a lot of bad stuff and hang out with energy dealers to get our fix, from fracking to piping tar sands. The cost of food adds into the energy equation because so much of what we eat is transported from far away.
LaDuke is part of a network dedicated to restoring the Anishinabe food system, from sowing crops of native corn to growing squash from 800-year-old seeds. It’s not just about gardening locally, she said, but what you grow and how you nourish it.
Crops keep carbon in the soil, which can slow climate change. By turning to renewable resources like the sun and wind, that carbon footprint becomes even more shallow. It even makes financial sense. At White Earth, LaDuke said, they spend about a quarter of their funds on food and another quarter on energy. If that energy and food were localized, they would quit hemorrhaging half their funds.
She encouraged people to oppose pipeline expansions and mining development in the area, citing the need to protect the land and water; we need to drop our sense of entitlement that just because it’s in the earth it belongs to us, said LaDuke
It’s important to localize food production and energy output, LaDuke said, and learn to live the true good life, one of fulfillment that doesn’t depend on monetary wealth and possessions.
At White Earth, the Anishinabe waited for the federal government or the tribal council to do something for them. Finally, they took the reins themselves. They may not be the brightest and smartest, LaDuke said, but “we are the people who live here.”
It’s up to them, and us, to consider how today’s decisions will impact the seventh generation from now, she said.