Winona LaDuke is a native environmental activist of the Ojibwe Nation. She was born in Los Angeles, California on August 18, 1959. She was born to Betty Bernstein, a Jewish-American woman and Vincent LaDuke, a member of the Ojibwe White Earth Reservation.
She is a recognized member of the Ojibwe Nation but did not live on the White Earth reservation until after college. She went to college at Harvard and studied rural economic development. There she joined native activist groups and expanded her knowledge. After this she became the principal of the local reservation high school on the White Earth reservation and became involved in local environmental issues during the completion of her masters’ thesis.
During her time as principal, she founded the Inidigenous Women’s Network in 1985 and projects for indigenous womens’ rights. She also helped the Anishinaabe nation in their struggle to obtain sacred lands back. Through this, she found the White Earth Land Recovery Project in 1989 and as a result, almost 1,200 acres have been restored to the Anishinaabe community.
Most famously, she ran as the vice president candidate with Ralph Nader under the Green Party for both 1996 and 2000. In 2016 she was given a presidential vote as the vice president for the Green Party by elector Robert Satiacum Jr. This makes her the first Native American woman to be given an electoral vote for vice president and the first Green Party candidate to also receive said vote.
She has continued to do work against the Dakota Access Pipeline and centers her environmental activism with indigenous values and practices. She is renowned for her work with renewable energy, food systems and protection of heritage foods.