Rising Appalachia and Winona LaDuke
I am sitting here with educator, American Indian activist, environmentalist, economist and general baddass Winona LaDuke of the Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) people and her powerful family and community, near Round Lake, MN. We are in her home in-between the White Earth Reservation and the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in northern Minnesota. I arrived yesterday, packed my bags from Appalachia to the Bemidji airport, and drove straight to the headwaters of the Mississippi. There I found a series of lakes and waterways sprawled all across this northern territory…swampy but distinctly BLUE (unlike any Mississippi I have ever seen down south!!). I made my prayers to that great river’s source lands…recognizing and feeling the girth of its vast reach and scope, and knowing how many lives, songs, sorrows, meals, ceremonies, journeys, and inspirations that this river has touched. I sat quietly at its banks…offering my gratitude in silence and soaking a tiny piece of leather in its waters to carry with me in remembrance-the “Mississippi song” having a whole new meaning now.
Then I drove on…heading to the LaDuke lands…getting ready to finally break bread with Winona, spending the next few days gathering together as allies to discuss the way that ART, EDUCATION, OUTREACH, AWARENESS, SPIRITUALITY,DIRECT ACTION, and COMMUNITY can truly make an impact on this wild spinning-top of a world that we are in. When I arrived I was put right on the bareback of Coco, the fierce little mare that lives at the White Earth Land Recovery farm. There I rode with Lorna near by, slowly getting a scope of the land and working off the travel time… Welcomed in with running children, a half finished cabin tucked deep over the lake lands, full of paintings and spirit and corn husks and the office where so much of Winona’s work comes from. An infinite work in progress as so much good work is! We are gathering this week as comrades in the greater vision of life- to do some planting at the Honor the Earth Office, some strategizing, some protecting, some learning of customs and culture, some story telling, some shit talking, and finally some performances and talk backs to build dialog around the SandPiper PIPELINE -stopping it from crossing into sacred headwater lands, rice fields, and the lake lads of Northern Minnesota. Its a long conversation about original ways of movement, the deep need for alternatives, and the ways in which we can really bring awareness to the table, as “activists”- how to sustain, how to stay empowered, and how to carve out a voice for ourselves and our communities. Winona and her work have been a wellspring of story-telling, and a steadfast mover in re-writing this story… She continues to work on the frontlines of food justice, land rights,and indigenous empowerment. I look forward to this week of ally building- and two shows we will co-produce in Duluth and Madeline Island MN. It is a deep honor to be opening these doors for collaboration.
Miigwech – Thankyou in Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe)
Education is Empowerment. to learn more see these websites and articles:
-Honor the Earth http://www.honorearth.org/
-White Earth Land Recovery http://welrp.org/
-Celebrating Hellraisers: http://www.motherjones.com/
-Niijii Radio http://niijiiradio.com/
-Seeds of our Ancestrs Ted X http://tedxtalks.ted.com/