by Winona LaDuke
(from the online release of Tipping the Sacred Cow-The Best of LiP: Informed Revolt)
Rethink your geography a little bit, set aside your thinking, and try to think about North America from an indigenous perspective. In doing so, what I’d like to ask is that you think about it in terms of islands in a continent.
I live on one island, White Earth reservation. It’s thirty-six miles by thirty six miles. It’s a rather medium-sized reservation, as they go in North America. That’s one island. A little bit west of me is Pine Ridge, a slightly larger reservation. Rosebud. Blackfeet. Crow. Cheyenne. Navaho. Hopi. Some of the larger islands are further north. When you go north of the fiftieth parallel in Canada, which is somewhere a little north of Edmonton, you’ll find that the majority of the population is native. 85% of the people who live north of the fiftieth parallel in Canada are native people.
How that is perhaps best reflected is in a place called Nunavut. Northwest Territories, a couple of years ago, was split into two territories. One of those territories is now called Nunavut because the people who live there are Inuit. They are the people who are the political representatives. They are the administrators of the school boards. They are the firemen. They are the doctors, the physicians. They have a form of self-governance in Nunavut where the majority of decisions are made by Inuit people. That area, Nunavut, is, including land and water, five times the size of Texas. It is a large area of land. It is the size of the Indian sub-continent.
So perhaps for that reason alone, it is important to know something more about indigenous people…
Let me talk a little bit about indigenous thinking, because I believe that is fundamental for understanding the conflicts that exist in the world today. In the world today it is not a conflict so much between the left and right, or the communists and the capitalists, so much as it is the conflict between the indigenous and the industrial.
(This far-reaching, increasingly relevant speech Winona LaDuke gave to students at North Carolina State University in Raleigh appeared in LiP: Informed Revolt and was also included in the magazine’s anthology, Tipping the Sacred Cow, now available online in PDF form.)