Winona LaDuke spoke this afternoon at the 2nd UNCF Green Building Learning Institute about how tribal colleges and communities are working to create a equitable and just economy. In order to build their resilience and self-reliance they are training technicians and renewable energy installers, putting up wind turbines and solar panels, and building healthy, efficient buildings.
At the same time they are fighting to protect themselves from a future destabilized by a continuation of the dirty energy economy by working to stop new coal plants that degrade the land and aquifers where the mining occurs, contribute to climate disruption, and create localized pollution problems like mercury in lakes and fish.
While she didn’t use the term, she touched on many of the core concepts of ecological economics – internalizing the true costs of our activities, recognizing the interrelationship, interdependence, and inseparability of human and natural systems, etc.
Winona may be best known as Vice Presidential candidate on the Ralph Nader ticket in the 1996 and 2000 elections, but she is along time rural development economist and advocate. Currently she serves as executive director of Honor the Earth, based in Minnesota that works to break the geographic and political isolation of Native communities and to increase financial resources for organizing and change.
Honor the Earth recently released a great report on Sustainable Tribal Economies (pdf) that is definitely worth checking out to learn more about the great work that is being done and could be done to create thriving tribal communities.