This is my idea of when America was great: when there were 8,000 varieties of corn … when there were 50 million buffalo, the single largest migratory herd in the world … in a territory with 250 different species of grass. Tremendous biodiversity: that is where life is, in biodiversity. Today, in the same landscape, you and I know that does not exist.From a Montana public radio interview with Winona LaDuke in 2019
Winona Laduke influences and empowers me. Her books reinforce my understanding of capitalism, colonization, and human exploitation and ignorance of sacred land and natural resources. Her words of passion, dedication, strength, and environmental activism are so fierce, that she touches my soul and my heart so strongly, I cry. She propels my mind into a state of I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING! I MUST be a steward for Mother Nature and for marginalized women in recovery, the way Winona is for Mother Nature and indigenous women across this country. Without an essential connection to nature and without healthy women around the world, humanity will suffer. The deeper I get with Horticulture For Healing, the stronger I feel my connection and my calling to be a protector for earth and women.
Since I was a little girl I had a special connection to nature. I was born with it. When I was five years old, I began learning the names of butterflies by looking at photos and studying them in my mother’s flower bed. I would collect dead insects and store them in jars. I had a collection of bird egg shells dropped from nests or robbed from other birds trying to move in. By the age of eight, I was able to identify the common names for most North Atlantic coast shells/mollusks. I had an obsession with classifying and collecting nature, rocks, leaves, animal skulls, bird feathers, and even rodent teeth! Of course, I didn’t know it at the time, but I was training my eye for nature and strengthening my connection with Earth, for my future. That training now serves me more than I ever imagined. My personal memories of my quiet connection with nature in my childhood, now looking back, helped me cope with not having adult support and emotional safety while growing up in the uncertainty of an alcoholic home. As I have mentioned in previous posts and on my website, I lost touch with this little girl, only a few years later, around the age of twelve, my insecurities and depression sent me on what would be the next eleven years of a heavy decline and spiral into addiction.
Getting into recovery, I was able to reconnect and discover that I never actually lost that little girl or her connection to nature. She was hidden away. Now I am a strong woman, who has overcome many barriers, obstacles, and adversity and continues to do so. Presently, I know my calling, I have a connection to Mother Earth, and I must pass this on to women so they can heal and become strong, confident, recognizing their value and beauty so that women of the world can come into power : )
Winona LaDuke lives out every powerful woman ideal I can think of, a model of how to be a woman who channels her energy to help Earth through education, activism and sustainability. She follows her strong intuition, bringing people back to that inherent connection to nature, that we all have, somewhere in our bodies. Her book Recovering The Sacred – The Power of Naming and Claiming, was the first book I read of hers. It is a work of effort to educate and decolonize and, includes her extensive work on the recovery of traditional foods to heal the people.
She works nationally and internationally on the issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice with indigenous communities. She is a leader in the issues of culturally based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy, and food systems. Winona is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation based non-profit organizations in the country. She’s known for her work on tribal land claims and preservation — all of this with the top goal of reclaiming and re-centering indigenous women as leaders. (https://www.humansandnature.org/winona-laduke).
Learning who Winona LaDuke is and what her life work entails gives me strength, confidence, and inspiration while I develop my first organization to help marginalized women in addiction recovery connect to the earth . Seeing a woman follow her calling for more than twenty years, who continues to make great strides in the fight for indigenous recognition, health, and empowerment, helps me visualize that it is possible for me to follow my intuition and make a mark in a society that favours money and greed over the health of the people and Earth.
You can buy her books used, on this excellent website called Alibris.
Two of her books that strongly influenced me:
The Power of Naming and Claiming – Recovering The Sacred
All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life
What I want to read next: Winona Laduke’s Novel Last Standing Woman
And a new book with a forward by Professor Winona LaDuke: Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the United States, Volume 18: Restoring Cultural Knowledge, Protecting Environments, and Regaining Health