Irresponsible energy use, restoring disappearing American Indian cultures and a lack of long-term environmental vision were all touched on by Winona LaDuke when she spoke Tuesday night.
LaDuke, a two-time vice presidential candidate, urged her listeners to be aware of their impact on the earth before the harm cannot be undone.
An audience of about 270 filled Anspach 161 to hear LaDuke’s presentation, titled “Indigenous Thinking and the Next Economy.” LaDuke shared her experiences as an activist dedicated to protecting the environment and culture of American Indian communities.
She is visiting Central Michigan University as the Denison Visiting Professor of Native American Studies.
“We’re the big consumers,” she said. “We consume more than our share of the biosphere.”
LaDuke is the founding director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the culture of the White Earth Anishinaabeg. She is also the executive director of Honor the Earth and works at the national level to raise public support and funding for native environmental groups.
LaDuke was the vice presidential running mate of Ralph Nader on the Green Party ticket in the 1996 and 2000 presidential elections.
Human consumption has raised carbon dioxide levels and caused the Earth’s overall temperature to increase 1 degree, LaDuke said. She said climate change is a threat to the environment.
“The reality is that we have destabilized a lot of things,” LaDuke said.
LaDuke said energy waste is a significant issue in the United States.
“Not only do we have a lot of energy consumption, we have a lot of inefficient energy consumption,” she said.
LaDuke said she helped build a wind turbine on the White Earth reservation to generate power for the community. She likes wind power because it is “power that can be owned by the people,” not corporations, she said.
The price and availability of food is also a growing concern, she said. As the price of oil rises, so does the price of food.
“There is no long-term security until you address food and energy,” she said.
Charlevoix freshman Raymond Shenoskey said he was most interested to hear LaDuke talk about food security and raising crops.
“You don’t have to go to Walmart,” he said. “You can grow your own vegetables.”
Mount Pleasant senior Kehli Henry said LaDuke was an inspiring speaker. She said she wanted to attend the presentation because she is an American Indian and has a minor in American Indian studies.
“It’s important to have different world viewpoints,” she said. “I think the Native American viewpoint is good to include.”
Henry said she agreed that people should reduce the amount of energy they consume.
“We waste more energy in the United States than we use,” she said. “Something needs to be changed.”