After much, much hand wringing and editing and processing and sweating and arguing with myself, here is a passable video of the lecture by Winona LaDuke that was delivered on Feb. 8 at the College of St. Scholastica. I think that the message she is sharing is important to hear and try to understand, whether or not you agree with her conclusions. One of her central theses seems is that people have been living and thriving in this region for thousands of years and in the past 100 or 200 years there have been significant and undesirable, even toxic, changes to the land, the waters, and the creatures and people who populate this region.
She doesn’t talk a huge amount about the Polymet proposal itself in this lecture but she does talk more generally about the concept of extractive vs. sustainable economics. The lecture is an hour and while I am not thrilled with the audio mix here, it would probably work OK to just have it on in the background and not worry about watching the video itself. In fact, the video itself is quite imperfect, too. I was having issues with memory cards and mixing and matching footage from multiple cameras, but it has some nice moments, and when you can see the slides, they add context to her lecture.
For the Duluth trivia and factoid lovers there is plenty to enjoy in this, including some Anishinaabe history such as the prophecy of the Seven Fires which isn’t often talked about often but I have been hearing it shared more often as part of the current debate around Polymet and expanding Enbridge pipelines as well as wolf hunting and climate change, etc. She also name-checks the Duluth Grill and Bruce Savage’s Spirit Lake Native Foods as interesting models of sustainable businesses. And there is a tantalizing story about the Cheyenne people of Wyoming who she says once lived in and around Duluth and she mentions that Spirit Mountain is one of their sacred sites. I would love to learn more about that someday.