American economist, activist, and author Winona LaDuke has dedicated her life to advocating for the rights of Indigenous people and environmental justice. She discusses her activism work and the ways grassroots strategies are shaping the future of sustainability during her talk, “The Next Energy Economy,” at the Moss Arts Center on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Monday, Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m.

A proud Anishinaabekwe (Ojibwe) member of the Mississippi Band Anishinaabeg, LaDuke lives on the White Earth Reservation in northwestern Minnesota. In 2016, she emerged as a prominent leader during the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, advocating fiercely to protect water access and sacred Indigenous lands in North Dakota. Her leadership in this pivotal moment for Indigenous rights galvanized a global movement.

LaDuke's journey began in 1985 when she co-founded and co-chaired the Indigenous Women’s Network, a coalition dedicated to empowering women to take active roles in tribal politics and culture. In 1989, she founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project, a reservation-based organization that focuses on land acquisition, environmental advocacy, and cultural preservation and has grown to become one of the largest reservation-based nonprofits in the United States. LaDuke also served as a board member for Greenpeace USA, demonstrating her commitment to global environmental causes.

She was the Green Party presidential running mate for Ralph Nader in both 1996 and 2000. Her influence transcends borders, making her an international thought leader and lecturer in climate justice, renewable energy, and environmental justice. She has been a relentless advocate for protecting Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering.

LaDuke’s role in the Dakota Access Pipeline protests inspired the 2017 documentary “First Daughter and the Black Snake.” In the same year, she was awarded the University of California's prestigious Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy, and Tolerance.

Beyond her activism, Winona LaDuke has authored six nonfiction titles, including her most recent, “To Be a Water Protector: Rise of the Wiindigoo Slayers,” which chronicles her activism in battling Line 3, an Enbridge tar sands oil pipeline in northern Minnesota. LaDuke is also the author of the novel “Last Standing Woman.”

Related engagement events

During her visit to Blacksburg, LaDuke will speak with undergraduate students about her decades of work as an activist and advocate for the environment and Native communities and meet with Native and Indigenous students, faculty, and staff for a meal and informal discussion about her role in the broader movements for Native rights and ecological conservation.


Tickets for the performance are $25 for general admission and $10 for students and youth 18 and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours. 

Venue and parking information

The performance will be held in the center’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall. Convenient parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street and in downtown Blacksburg. Find more parking details online.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Jamie Wiggert at least 10 days prior to the event at 540-231-5300 or email during regular business hours. 

Support for the performance

This performance is co-sponsored by the Virginia Tech Office of Inclusion and Diversity and Ati: Wa:oki Indigenous Community Center.

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