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Winona Laduke's Geni Profile

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Winona Laduke

Birthdate: (54)
Birthplace: Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Vincent Laduke and <private> Bernstein
Ex-wife of Chief Randy Kapashesit
Partner of <private> Gasco
Mother of <private> Kapashesit and <private> Kapashesit

Occupation: activist, economist, author
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

    • <private> Gasco
      partner
    • <private> Kapashesit
      child
    • <private> Kapashesit
      child
    • <private> Bernstein
      parent
    • <private>
      step-parent

About Winona Laduke

From Wikipedia (English):

Winona LaDuke (born 1959) is an American Indian activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer of Anishinaabe background on her father's side and Jewish background on her mother's. In 1996 and 2000, she ran for vice president as the nominee of the Green Party of the United States, on a ticket headed by Ralph Nader.

She is currently the executive director of both White Earth Land Recovery Project, which she founded at White Earth Reservation in 1989, and Honor the Earth, which she founded with Indigo Girls Amy Ray and Emily Saliers in 1993. She started living at the reservation for the first time in 1982, after graduating from college, and worked as a principal of a high school. LaDuke became an activist in Anishinaabe issues, helping found the Indigenous Women's Network in 1985 and becoming involved in continuing struggles to regain reservation land lost since allotments to individual households in the nineteenth century. The WELRP holds land in a conservation trust for the benefit of the tribe.

Early life and education

Winona (meaning "first daughter" in Ojibwe) LaDuke was born in Los Angeles, California, to Vincent and Betty (Bernstein) LaDuke. Her father, an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) from White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, enrolled his daughter as a member of the tribe at an early age. As a young man, he had been an activist on treaty rights and tribal issues, particularly the loss of lands. The reservation was one-tenth of its original size, and the losses contributed to unemployment and other problems of its people. After his marriage, he worked as an actor in Hollywood, with supporting roles in Western movies, a writer and, by the 1980s, as a spiritual guru under the name Sun Bear. Her mother was of Russian Jewish descent, and became an artist. They separated when Winona was five, and her mother took a position as an art instructor at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, then a small logging town. LaDuke grew up mostly in Ashland.

Both parents were activists; influenced by her father, LaDuke became interested in tribal issues early. She attended public school and was on the debate team in high school, placing third in a state competition as a senior. She went on to college at Harvard, where she became part of a group of Indian activists. She graduated in 1982 with a degree in rural economic development.

LaDuke never lived at White Earth until after graduating from college. She went there without knowing the Ojibwe language or many people, and was not quickly accepted. She worked as principal of the high school on the White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota. At the same time, she was doing research for her master's thesis on the reservation's subsistence economy and quickly became involved in local issues. She completed an M.A. in Community Economic Development at Antioch University.

Marriage and family

LaDuke married Randy Kapashesit, a Cree leader, when working in opposition to a major hydroelectric project near Moose Factory, Ontario. They had two children: a daughter, Waseyabin (born 1988) and a son, Ajuawak (born 1991). They divorced after several years.

LaDuke now has a companion in Kevin Gasco and had another child with him in 1999. She also cared for a niece and nephew for an extended period. She and Kevin share her grandchildren.

On November 9, 2008, LaDuke's house in Ponsford, Minnesota, burned down. LaDuke was in Boston when the fire broke out. Her four family members at home got out in time and no one was injured. LaDuke lost all her personal property at the site, including her extensive library and indigenous art and artifact collection.

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Winona Laduke's Timeline