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WITH VIDEO: Native speaker wants to ‘re-nativize’ Michigan using local products

Activist and economist Winona LaDuke does not want people to always look at the world through a European lens.

“By and large most museums do not contain indigenous art,” LaDuke said, an internationally-acclaimed Native American author. “As an undergraduate of Harvard, what I noted was that when you want to study the art from Europe you went to the fine arts department. If you wanted to study the art from Native America you go to anthropology.”

LaDuke visited Central Michigan University on Monday evening to promote eco-friendly policies in Michigan and the use of natural resources from within the state. About 90 people attended the event, which is part of The Olga J. and G. Roland Denison Visiting Professorship of Native American Studies series.

Rick Kurtz, political science professor, said the mission of the series is to increase the understanding of historical experiences, cultural traditions, innovations and the political status of native peoples in the U.S. and Canada.

“Her mission, you might say, is devoted to protecting the land and lifeways of Native American peoples in their communities,” Kurtz said.

During LaDuke’s presentation, she showed art from her region that reflected indigenous views.

“I am going to lay a little bit more of a foundation for indigenous thinking,” LaDuke said.

LaDuke said indigenous thinking and worldviews are worth considering, particularly in light of where society is today. LaDuke added there are many hidden facets of indigenous thinking that are very dominant in the U.S.

LaDuke discussed why there is no easy answer to producing a sustainable economy.

By consuming too much oil, the U.S. has combusted itself almost to the edge of oblivion with the climate change, she said.

“We have a food supply that is transported across the country,” she said. “What happens when the price of oil goes up? So does the price of food,” she said.

One of her solutions is to use local products grown in the state instead of burning fuel to travel across state lines for food.

West Virginia graduate student Lauren Begley said she was inspired by LaDuke’s presentation.

“The biggest thing I learned was different ways to make things more sustainable,” Begley said. “I also really enjoyed what she said about through a non-European lens. That is interesting to me to think of things from a completely different viewpoint.”

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