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Former Nader Running-mate Defends Nader’s 2004 Presidential Bid, Discusses International Women’s Day, Racism and Alternative Energy

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On this International Women’s Day we speak with Winona LaDuke, a longtime indigenous rights activist about the “Wind Not War” alternative energy campaign, racism towards Native Americans and protests against President Bush to mark International Women’s Day. [includes transcript]

To mark International Women’s Day, the anti-war group Code Pink issued President Bush a 40-foot tall pink slip during a demonstration on Sunday.

On Saturday night Code Pink celebrated International Women’s Day with a concert and spoken word performance.

For 93 years, women around the world have been marking International Women’s Day with calls for a more peace and justice-centered world.

  • Winona LaDuke, 2000 Green Party Vice President candidate; longtime indigenous rights activist who lives on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. She also serves as the board co-chair for the Indigenous Women’s Network. She is author of several books including “Last Standing Woman” (1997) and All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life (1999).

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, it is International Women’s Day and to mark the occasion this weekend, the anti-war group, Code Pink, issued President Bush a 40-foot-tall pink slip during a demonstration on Sunday that was held aloft by hot air balloons. On Saturday night, Code Pink celebrated International Women’s Day with a concert and spoken word performance among those who were there was Winona LaDuke, the long-time indigenous rights activist and 2000 Green Party running mate of Ralph Nader. She joins us in the studio today. Welcome to Democracy Now. Welcome Winona.

WINONA LADUKE: Thank you. Hello.

AMY GOODMAN: You were also in Washington on Thursday for a very important event at the Smithsonian Institution, remembering some very important women.

WINONA LADUKE: The event was actually here, at the museum of the American Indian, here. It was a 5th year memorial for our relatives Ingrid Washy Notak, and Lashinay who were assassinated by the Fark in Columbia five years ago, March 4, 1999. And so this was a 5th year memorial, you know, a lot of people from the community came in and musicians and we honored their lives and talked about, you know, what happens when you give military aid to countries like Colombia, as why we oppose the war as women.

AMY GOODMAN: Also involves oil.

WINONA LADUKE: It does involve oil. I mean, a lot of the undercurrents for the United States consumes more than anybody else in the world. We consume a third of the world’s resources and we have to as a consequence have a relationship with much of world which has to do with collecting those resources. And so it involves a constant intervention into other people countries and a constant violation of other people’s human rights.

WINONA LADUKE: You’re headed to a Powwow in Denver that is connected in an unusual way to this?

AMY GOODMAN: On my way, I have to do a little work before I go to the Powwow. My family is all dancers. It’s Denver March Powwows one of the largest western powwows. Anyone should come. You should enjoy yourself as some of these events. We are launching a campaign called Wind, Not War, which is about the alternatives to a fossil fuels based economy and looking at wind, an alternative energy as key to that in terms of issues of global climate change as well as issues of democracy.

AMY GOODMAN: The motto of the campaign?

LAURA FLANDERS: Wind, not War. And it comes from, you know native communities have provided a good portion of the country’s energy resources. About 20% of the energy resources come from Indian communities. We are the people in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. We are in the James Bay dams and we’re the big combusters in Navajo and Las Vegas and Los Angeles. We are the CO2 emitters of the west. Our communities have a good portion of oil. And if you’re going to spend most of your time in your democracy figuring out how to get oil by intervening into other people’s countries and insuring that you follow it with military might, we think there’s an alternative. Which would be renewable energy. And in the reality is that this democracy has been compromised by oil interests as well as other things. But give me a good argument that oil companies are not the most powerful interests in the country. I’d like to see that argument, whether it’s Exxon Mobile or Halliburton. It turns out that the Indian communities are, go figure, we’re like the windiest places in the country. I’m not sure how that worked out but that would be us. So there’s 23 Indians reservations in the western United States that have about 300 giga-watts of wind potential. That represents about half of present U.S. electrical consumption. We think it’s an issue of energy justice. Instead of putting dams on us and nuclear waste dumps. We think we should have the wind towers. We put up the first one last year and we are looking at putting up more. That is the campaign we’re talking about, it is an alternative.

AMY GOODMAN: Winona LaDuke, we have a press release from Naja, the Native American Journalists’ Association saying where is the coverage. For more than a week now, the press release said, native people across the United States and Canada have expressed their outrage over the stereotyped outcast performance of the 46th Grammy awards. The native media did an admirable job in covering the controversy. In contrast to the wall to wall coverage of the Janet Jackson’s halftime show, the outcast performance has raised barely a whisper in the main stream people. Native people find themselves out of sight, out of mind. We only have a minute, but can you describe what happened and what it is so that so many are objecting to?

WINONA LADUKE: The idea that you can dress up in some kind of a fake Indian outfit and get on stage is somehow acceptable in this country. That has to do with the fact that you have the R-dsk-ns, the Braves, you have people who dress up like Indians, people dress up like Indians on Halloween. That is acceptable. So, recognizing instead that people have the right to human rights to dignity and control over their imagery and identity. America, totally, instead of dealing with native people, commodities us and objectifies us, and so outcast goes on and Native America. America is so accustomed to some depiction of native people that is entirely racist and there’s a perception that that is okay.

AMY GOODMAN: Winona LaDuke, I want to thank you very much for joining us today. Winona LaDuke is the 2000 Green party Vice Presidential candidate. Your thoughts in ten seconds on Ralph Nader running again.

WINONA LADUKE: I think he should run. If it’s a democracy anybody should be able to run for office. If you don’t like him, don’t vote for him, If you want to vote for him, do.

AMY GOODMAN: Winona LaDuke from The White Earth Reserve Ace in Minnesota. That does it for the show.

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