On White Feminists
What is it about that Lateral Oppression? I want to speak out on some white feminists. While I fully understand the critique of the privileging of white feminists and their ability, historically, who feel that they can speak on our behalf: this is not always the case. I think that as Native women we need allies, and those allies are of all colors; and the question is the relationship. In this case, Eve Ensler of V Day is a good target- because of her international profile, however, my experience with Eve and V Day is positive, nurturing and continues. I have worked with her, traveled with her, and shared coffee and stories with her. At this point I am standing with her.
Let me back up. I am not going to credential myself as a Native feminist. I am going to say that I’ve spent my whole life working on the issues that impact our communities, and Native women. For two decades I was a board Co-chair of the Indigenous Women’s Network, and I advocate for the status protection and furtherance of Native women. I’ve faced down completely privileged white women, aggressive Black women, and faced my own community, if I disagree. What I want is a positive future - ji misawaabanaaming.
As a writer and journalist, I often share stories. Those stories are told to me, or I am asked to tell those stories. I don’t’ tell stories, unless someone wants me to share their story. That is the ethic. From experience in working with Eve Ensler, I know that she shares those ethics. She has come to events for us, to raise awareness on the link between the exploitation of the fossil fuels industry and sex trafficking - last year we did an amazing event on this, and she has supported our work at Honor the Earth in the arena of environmental justice and Native women. I don’t think that the Indian Country Today piece targeting Eve was fair; although the general critique is essential.
The challenges we face as Indigenous women in North America are related to the challenges faced by women elsewhere; and we need true allies.
Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabe, is an American Indian activist, environmentalist, economist and writer.
By: Winona LaDuke