What I believe: Mino bimaatisiiwin
Four points: An Anishinaabe-centered economy, decriminalization of our people, tribal constitutional reform, and an understanding that what’s good for the land is good for the people.
I believe an economy centered around our own community will lead to success. Our current economy is hemorrhaging. We’re importing food, importing energy, even something like funerals are handled by a non-Native business. From cradle to grave, we’re looking externally. We need to localize our own food, our jobs. We need a strong private sector, in addition to a tribal government. We need to have control over our economy; jobs in our villages, not far away; and creating a strong tribal economy; again.
We need to decriminalize our own people and stop punishing the victims. Id say maybe a quarter of the people on White Earth without a driver’s license, mostly due to driving without proof of insurance. It’s poverty-related, we have to stop criminalizing poverty. We need clean slate programs to wipe out low-level convictions and get people legalized and working again. Marijuana needs to be decriminalized - we need to allow for medical marijuana and hemp industry on White Earth. A plant is not a criminal. At the same time, while I am in favor of it.. we need to have discussions and a vote. Our tribe does not need to be encumbered in the federal or state legal process, for the next five years…People need to have a voice in important matters.
The tribe’s constitution must be reformed. A constitution written by the federal government in 1934 is not the document that will carry our people forward. Having an open and transparent process for tribal voters is critical – we shouldn’t be trying to restrict anyone from having a voice. But we must also work with the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. I personally don’t support blood quantum, we are the only human beings that are subject to ‘quantum.’ But at a minimum, at least allow blood aggregation. If you’re Indian, you’re Indian. I believe we are from our Nation and we determine who is a member of our Nation. Continuing down this path of quantum politics has us looking at 2030 for the date that White Earth will be gone.
Protect the Sacred:
Finally, what’s good for the land is good for the people. We’ve got potato farmers spraying our tribal schools with pesticides. Groundwater contamination from agricultural industry, pipelines threatening to come though. This isn’t good for the land or for us.
I also know that the issues of Anishinaabe Akiing must be worked on together; collectively by the Anishinaabe people. Whether our constitution.. our food , our environment. We are all in this together and will flourish together.
Now, let’s also point out that most of our tribal members have been forced off the reservation, and now live in urban areas. Lets take care of our home so that they can come home. Especially our youth.. We need the good thoughts, all those educated and committed people, and we need to build a strong nation.
I am asking you to join me. After 35 years as a grassroots community organizer, this week, I file to seek the office of Tribal Chair of the White Earth reservation. The time is now. WhileI intend to continue with our work at Honor the Earth, the need to transition my own community into a fossil fuel reduced, local food future is pressing. This model will be a leading model, not only in Minnesota, and Anishinaabe territory, but also nationally. That is, if I am elected. To do that, I need to start with some seed money; because this campaign will be one of the largest challenges in my life. I am asking you to consider a contribution to the Winona LaDuke Campaign Fund, and to pass the word. Every bit helps, as it will take resources to win this election.