Winona LaDuke, the former Green Party vice-presidential candidate in the 1996 and 2000 election, shared her revolutionary economic strategies called the “new green revolution” at the virtual Earth Day Symposium event hosted by Fullerton College’s Ethnic Studies Department.

Fullerton College's Ethnic Studies Department hosted the Earth Day Symposium with Winona LaDuke as the guest speaker on April 22, 2021.

Fullerton College's Ethnic Studies Department hosted the Earth Day Symposium with Winona LaDuke as the guest speaker on April 22, 2021. Photo credit: Reann Wenceslao

The proposal varied from electric railway systems to creating innovative ways to replace modern plastic items with plant-based through a plant called hemp.

She created her own farm called Hemp & Heritage Farm where she started growing hemp to revolutionize the fiber industry. With hemp’s biodegradable characteristics, this will replace the synthetic fibers that are found in many fabric.

“We need a green new revolution and hemp is revolutionary,” LaDuke said.

Winona LaDuke talking about the origins of hemp and showing the items that can be built from it through Zoom.

Winona LaDuke talking about the origins of hemp and showing the items that can be built from it through Zoom. Photo credit: Reann Wenceslao

She explained how hempcretes, which are concrete made entirely of biocomposite materials, can possibly build homes and how their solar thermal panel called the 8th Fire Solar, runs on renewable energy and does not require fossil fuels.

The hempcretes can allegedly remove carbon from air while being sturdy enough to be a building material and the solar thermal panels can take heat from the sun to warm up their homes in the winter.

According to LaDuke, the US infrastructure also needs a major change through electrifying the train system and get it to run on clean renewable energy by building community solar panels.

“Evo Morales, an indigenous leader of Bolivia, wrote into the Bolivian rights of the constitution the rights of mother earth. That’s what indigenous thinking looks like… I wanna live in a world where the rights of mother earth should precede the rights of corporations and that’s what I’m gonna work for,” LaDuke said.

Winona LaDuke and her community farms to reduce the amount of petroleum and fossil fuels in their food in Round Lake, Minnesota.

Winona LaDuke and her community practices agrobiodiversity to reduce the amount of petroleum and fossil fuels in their food in Round Lake, Minnesota. Photo credit: Winona LaDuke

The author, activist, environmentalist, and a Harvard and Antioch University alumna continues to stand up and is currently fighting against the Canadian company, Enbridge Inc. and its project, Line 3, where they are building a tar sand oil pipeline near her reservation at Round Lake, Minnesota.

“The cost of climate change is getting more expensive every year, that’s what I’m gonna say and no one has a budget for this. And nobody had a budget for the pandemic. And so what are we going to do to create resilient communities? What are we going to do to take care of mother earth?” LaDuke said.

To keep up with LaDuke’s projects and missions, visit the website here.

Chair of the Ethnic Studies Department Amber Rose González believes that the situation of climate change is also an issue of social justice.

Winona LaDuke was involved in the Dakota Access Pipelines protests in 2016 and is now protesting a current pipeline in Minnesota called Line 3.

Winona LaDuke was involved in the Dakota Access Pipelines protests in 2016 and is now protesting a current pipeline in Minnesota called Line 3. Photo credit: Keri Pickett

González noted that the systems in place value profit over the well being of the planet.

“From an ethnic studies and Native American studies disciplinary perspective, Earth Day is an opportunity to underscore the imperative of decolonization and to center conversations of indigenous sovereignty, rematriation, land, water and air protection, and to demand climate solutions centered in justice and radical reciprocity,” González added.

To learn more about local contemporary Native American issues in North Orange County, visit the Native American Faculty and Staff Alliance’s (NAFSA) website here.

Author profile

Reann Wenceslao (She/They) is a journalism major from Whittier, CA. In her free time, she enjoys making art and appreciating the earth.