Winona LaDuke lives a more or less placid life on the White Earth Reservation: gathering rice, picking mushrooms and berries, participating in community life and … riding on horseback to Washington D.C. with a bunch of cowboys and camping out near the Washington Monument in a teepee.
You see, there’s this matter of the Sandpiper pipeline and the tarlike substance known as bitumen that would flow through it across tribal lands—right through the reservation’s best ricing lakes, as a matter of fact. And that is how a simple life suddenly morphs into taking up with unlikely allies, galloping to the U.S. capital and cruising around with a stranger in a Tesla.
Flash forward to the Washington Monument.
“So I get off my horse, and I go to my teepee which is on the Washington Mount,” she says with relish. She is approached by a man offering her a ride in his car—a Tesla, a vehicle that he charged with solar panels at home before setting out. It’s a trip she can relate to.
“That’s really what we in Indian country want: We want to walk out of our teepees, into a Tesla,” LaDuke says to Indian Country TV (no relation to ICTMN) in this interview. “As Native people, we don’t need to be told that our only choice is to figure out which of these really demonic [fossil fuel] choices should be ours. We need to say, This is what we want.”
And what exactly is that?
“We want to be in our sugarbush, we want to live the life that the Creator gave us, we want to rice…. We don’t want to be the people who work 11 months of the year to live like Indians for a month,” she says.
It goes beyond that, of course, to the well-being of the planet and everything that lives upon it. Localizing energy, food and housing would favor the environment, which in turn favors us, and life itself.