Native American activist and water protector Winona LaDuke to speak in Great Barrington


GREAT BARRINGTON — Winona LaDuke, a Native American leader and water protector, will speak at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Saturday about choices that societies must now make on behalf of the Earth and its inhabitants.

LaDuke, a member of the Ojibwe Nation of the Anishinaabe peoples in Northern Minnesota, has advocated since the mid-1980s for indigenous people trying to recover ancestral land, natural resources and culture.

On Saturday afternoon, the anti-pipeline activist will deliver the keynote address the 37th E.F. Schumacher Lectures on a theme inspired by the Anishinaabe people's Prophecy of the Seventh Fire, which says that a choice between two paths will have to be made — "one green and lush, the other well-worn but scorched."

This references the growing modern concern over the effects of fossil fuels on climate change and water pollution. And also the construction of new pipeline infrastructure everywhere, and where Native American cultural resources and the environment might be threatened.

LaDuke spoke of this prophecy to water protectors at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation last year, where Native American coalitions and anti-pipeline activists entrenched to fight the Dakota Access pipeline, which is now transmitting crude oil.

"We are not just fighting against something, but clearly and decidedly walking with open eyes and hearts down the path that is green," LaDuke said at Standing Rock.

While at Standing Rock, LaDuke also spoke to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.

"It's time to end the fossil fuel infrastructure," she said. "I mean, these people on this reservation, they don't have adequate infrastructure for their houses. They don't have adequate energy infrastructure. They don't have adequate highway infrastructure. And yet they're looking at a $3.9 billion pipeline that will not help them. It will only help oil companies."

LaDuke's address will be followed by a panel discussion led by Nwamaka Agbo, a member of the Schumacher Center's board of directors, with panelists Karissa Lewis and Gopal Dayaneni, both community resource activists in California.

The panel will also feature Robert Hawk Storm Birch, a hereditary Sachem (Chief) of the Schaghticoke First Nations people of New York and Connecticut.

The lecture series began in 1981 with lectures by Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson after the Schumacher Center for a New Economics was founded a year earlier.

The Great Barrington-based educational nonprofit is known internationally for its pioneering work toward a more sustainable society.

Heather Bellow can be reached at 413-329-6871, and @BE_heatherbellow.


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