Activist Winona LaDuke discusses the Dakota Access Pipeline and more

Published: Oct. 17, 2016 at 7:19 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Native American activist Winona LaDuke joined us to talk about the Dakota Access Pipeline, the presidential election, the seventh generation, and more.


(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)


Chris Berg: Breaking news tonight, Morton County judge refused to sign off on charges against Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman for her criminal trespassing charge. She is and being recharged for engaging in a riot and those charges are under review. Also over this past weekend there were reports near the Dakota Access Pipeline sites where a saddle horse, three cows and bison were found dead, some of them butchered, this according to the North Dakota Stockmen's Association. How do we all need to take a moment, settle down and solve this situation peacefully, before somebody gets killed?

I'm Chris Berg, thanks for joining us. With us tonight to answer that question and much, much more is a world renowned Native American activist, ran on a Green ticket party in '96 with Ralph Nader and she was recently at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest, Winona LaDuke. Thanks for being here.

Winona LaDuke: Thanks for having me.

CB: Here's what I want to get at. I do not want to repeat a Wounded Knee situation in the '70s. I want to get your thoughts, play a clip for a rancher that's out by the pipeline near St. Anthony.


Interviewer: Do you feel safe right now?

Rancher: Um, no. And as I said before, I’m not a hunter, I’ve never owned a lot of guns, but I do now. Mainly for protection. I've never enjoyed shooting anything. I hope I never have to. But if it comes down to protecting my family, I will.


CB: I hear that and I go, hey, with butchered bison, one wrong move, somebody is going to make a mistake and shoot somebody and that's bad news.

WL: That's the least of the problems out there.

CB: That's the least?

WL: Just heard about this stockman situation. I don't know that that is true. I didn't see any new bison down there. There's a lot of meat being dropped by tribes all throughout the region. I know that one woman unfortunately did hit a cow and I know that that kind of -- it's kind of --

CB: Just to be clear, you're suggesting the stockman association could be making this all up.

WL: I'm saying I don't know anything about that. I don't want to cast any aspersions on the stockman's association. You could get good insurance or something, I don't know. I know to the best of my knowledge, meat has been delivered by tribes, there is money to buy food. I don't think Indians are rustling and that's the least of our problems, with federal law violations going on, including constitutional law violations in the county. I don't know anybody who did.

CB: 30 are missing right now. Here's what I want to get at.

WL: Someone told me that. I think we should do an investigation. I did not see any of those down at the camp and I was down there yesterday.

CB: Not at the camp, they're on private property.

WL: I think there's a lot of people down there and I think that's a little bit of a mistake. The question you and I both have is how do we get to peace?

CB: Yes.

WL: I've got a couple suggestions on that. I spent four years fighting the pipeline in sand piper. I went to every hearing, my tribe intervened, I worked really, really hard, knew all their terms, I was like the process doesn't work like that. North Dakota did something called regulatory capture, which occurred in North Dakota which is when large oil companies you -- or when there's --

CB: That's not true. There was 13 public service commission meetings all open for public comment and nobody showed up for any of those.

WL: Let me give you an example of what this problem is. There's two different kinds of permits. One called a nationwide permit and then there's a four -- those are given to the Army Corps of Engineers for water, all of those types of things. This pipeline got -- under the nationwide permit. Say you've got a skol and water facility over here, sewage treatment plants. They shouldn't have to do a full EIS. Less than a quarter acre is damaged. It's intended for small projects. This entire 1600 pipeline was permitted under the nationwide permit process. So in that process they did not have to go through federal -- they did not have to have a transparent process. While the North Dakota utilities commission --

CB: Hold on a second. There's 389 meetings on cultural survey results, 180 filings, 11 meetings between the Corp and Standing Rock. Only two comments filed. I hear what you're saying, we've had a federal judge and appeals court say army corps of engineers near did everything under the law. Where is Governor Dalrymple, where are senators. Go down to standing rock, stand with chairman and kick what I’m calling the eco-terrorists out there. You've got people out there doing things that shouldn't be here. My question to you is if you were going to sit in front of the media, Governor Dalrymple, Chairman, what would you say to these two?

WL: You know what I’d say, couple things. One, what I would call this is the Dakota Access Pipeline. Why would I call it the Dakota access pipeline? You just saw Lynn Helms come out and side 900,000 barrels per day. We all know that. Things are not going so well in the Bakken. 900,000 barrels per day. That is going out on pipeline and railcars. That's already moving out. So this pipeline is 570,000 barrels per day. You don't have that -- you don't have anything to put in it in North Dakota.

CB: It's going on rails.

WL: Yes, but rails is not -- this is not a better answer. So if you have a pipeline leak, like the Kalamazoo spill, 20,000 gallons a minute --

CB: Did you see what happened in Casselton? Is that better?

WL: I'm saying that the actually he whole thing is false. We node to move away from fossil fuels. I want something that's efficient. Look at this, I spent a lot of time in school, you probably did. What I want to know is -- I spent my whole life, my whole life in the fossil fuel economy. I've just said I had a blast. What I want is a graceful transition. So I don't want to explode my way out, I don't want every ecosystem falling apart and crashing. I don't want climate change. My Harvard magazine that comes to me every year, every month --

CB: Do they ask you to make a donation?

WL: I never make a donation and they still give me that magazine. Mara Prentiss, big shot girl. The combustion engine is --

CB: You're dodging my question. I'm asking you how do we solve this? That's decades away.

WL: No, that is not decades away. I want a tesla, buddy.

CB: Go buy one. You need to transition.

WL: You need to transition out of --

CB: You drove here in a truck.

WL: I want an efficient system. Why should I try to fuel an inefficient system?

CB: Why don't then -- you've been a great activist for Native Americans. Why not use it as a model? Go build an economic model on an reservation. Let's do it on Standing Rock.

WL: That's what I’m saying. Don't have people get killed here.

CB: You're not answering my question.

WL: What I’m saying is you've got a $3. 9 billion dollars pipeline that nobody needs.

CB: Did you see what happens in Casselton? Yes, we need it to go through the pipeline so we don't have Bakken bombs.

WL: That's not going to happen tomorrow. You need to grow up, North Dakota. North Dakota is full of water that is contaminated --

CB: No, it's not. I've got to wrap it up. The American Lung Association voted we've got some of the cleanest air in the nation.

WL: Too much --

CB: The American lung association --

There's something powerful about Native Americans no one is talking about called the 7th generation -- plus, since she ran as VP, maybe we'll run as --

We just got started. Love to know your point of view. Join our conversation at We'll be right back.


Chris Berg: Native American activist Winona LaDuke. If show would have talked to Governor Dalrymple, you would say what?

Winona LaDuke: I would say, Governor Dalrymple, do a full environmental impact statement. Don't cheat us. We want a full disclosure, every secret site, the amount of oil that could be spilled. We also want to know why you can't have it north of Bismarck and going directly into the water of Standing Rock.

CB: Thank you for that specific answer. One of the things people are talking about, there's a thing called 7th generation prophecy. Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, actually right before the Wounded Knee massacre. Talk to people about the impact. Standing rock is about the no dapple. But it's got the most Native Americans in place since the battle of Wounded Knee.

WL: Little Big Horn. What we're trying to avoid is what was Wounded Knee. When you bring all that military, it starts to get more and more heated up. So I’d like the governor to deescalate. At the time of the 7th fire, that our people as a nation would have a choice between two paths. The other would be well worn and not scorched. The other path is -- we believe that is the point we're at. You know, you've got 602 different fracking chemicals going into your water in North Dakota, that goes down, but not up. You've got a lot of combusting. You've got an opportunity to go to the green. There's that prophecy and the other prophecy of the coming together of the people. Perhaps that was best said by sitting bull who said let us put our minds together to see what kind of life we can make for our children. That is what I think. We are -- have the opportunity to be intelligent beings. You know, as far as I know, none of us is going anywhere. North Dakota people, you know, you quit moving out, you're staying now apparently, like there was 50 years of moving out, everybody moved to California. Because of fracking you're all staying. Get that brown water cleaned up, so we can all hang out now --

CB: Let me ask you specifically. I look at Native American culture as one of the most resourceful cultures of all-time. Obviously talk about mother earth. Mother earth created oil.

WL: Oil has a purpose in the earth. Carbon is supposed to be in the soil, not the air.

CB: That's how plants breathe, with carbon.

WL: Supposed to be in the soil, not the concentration of the air

CB: They can use photo synthesis to make sure they grow, that's important for plants.

WL: Natural balance of that process. So what's happening is that we're addicts, basically, so we've got this air called extreme extraction. So we're doing stuff like drilling 20,000 feet under the ocean, cutting off 5,000 -- that's extreme extraction. That's what addicts do. That's where we got to. So what I want to do is be more simple. My suggestion of the transition, totally unpopular North Dakota because I know the policies – look at Venezuela, largest oil reserves in the world. Why do we not buy Venezuelan oil?

CB: There's a new bed found in Texas, got a ton here as well. I wants to talk about the presidential campaign. You ran as VP twice. Your thoughts on what's happening in this campaign and what's going to happen the day after the election.

WL: Let's hope that there is a sigh of relief the day after the election. I feel like this is the most powerful country in the world, like being president of the world. So we'd really like some intelligence, like the mud shrinking, groping of women and bragging about it, that's a big problem. Obviously I’m not a Trump supporter, although I know a lot of people are. I wants to know what we're going to do for quality of life in North America, how are we going to make peace instead of declare wars on people. That's what we want.

CB: Your thoughts of what's coming out of the WikiLeaks emails, denigration of Bernie Sanders.

WL: Politics bring out the worst of people. I'm one of the people who met Nelson Mandela. I hung out with Desmond Tutu. Those are cool people who are ethical. What I want is that kind of leadership. I want ethical people with good hearts.

CB: Let me ask you this. With that being said for the people breaking the law out at Standing Rock?

WL: What I want is the governor to quit breaking the laws. If you are going to defend the rights of the corporation over rights of people for water --

CB: They're following the law, the federal judge and appeals court said --

WL: I'm saying the law is skewed.

CB: I've got 60 seconds left, what is going on at Concordia?

WL: You have the exact location, I’m an economist by training, honest to god, where is our water going to come from, what are we going to be eating. When I think of the economy, that's the beauty of fossil foul, when you have all this wind -- fuel, when you have all this, you're charging the highest cost. We have externalized all of the costs.

CB: Thanks for being here.

WL: Thanks for having me.

CB: Check her out at Concordia College, great stuff there. As always, stay with us, when we get back we're going to get your points of view. Head to our website,