Born August 18, 1959, in Los Angeles, California, Winona LaDuke is a Native American activist, environmentalist, author and politician of Anishinaabe and Jewish descent. Her father Vincent LaDuke, an Indian activist, actor and spiritual guru (Sun Bear), and her mother Betty (Bernstein) LaDuke, an artist and professor, separated when Winona was five years old. Winona and her mother moved to Ashland, Oregon, in 1964. Winona left Ashland to attend Harvard University, graduating in 1982 with a degree in rural economic development. LaDuke became involved in Native American environmental issues during her time at Harvard, and was active in several anti-nuclear rallies and campaigns, including the Black Hills Uranium Mining Protest of 1979.
Post-graduation, Winona moved to the White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota, working as a high school principal while earning her M.A. from Antioch University in community economic development. Using the proceeds from a human rights award from Reebok, she founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP) in 1989 in order to raise funds to purchase original White Earth land holdings. As a non-profit organization, WELRP focuses on reforestation of reservation lands, markets and grows traditional products, and invests in sustainable energy projects.
LaDuke ran as a candidate for Vice President of the United States on the Green Party ticket with Ralph Nader in 1996 and 2000. Winona has been the recipient of numerous awards for her environmental and humanitarian work, including 1997 Ms. Magazine’s Woman of the Year and her induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame (2007). She is the mother of three children with Randy Kapashesit, a political representative of the Cree tribe. The couple separated in 1992. In 1999, Winona had another child, with partner Kevin Gasco. The author of numerous books and current director of Honor the Earth, LaDuke continues to lecture, write, and work on issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice.
From the guide to the Winona LaDuke papers, 1976-2001, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)