Albion Monitor /News

Ojibwe Activist Named Green Party VP

by Aaron Osterby

(AR) ST. PAUL -- Winona LaDuke, a prominent Minnesota Ojibwe and grass roots political activist, accepted the vice presidential nomination of the Green Party on August 29, declaring her candidacy a campaign for democracy and a new model of electoral politics.

LaDuke joins the Green Party's presidential candidate Ralph Nader, a pioneering consumer advocate who has spent a lifetime attacking the power elite.

"I believe that decision making should not be the exclusive right of the privileged," LaDuke said. "Those who are affected by policy -- not those who by default often stand above it -- should be heard in the debate."

The campaign has $5,000 to spend, less than Republicans spent on balloons

The Nader-LaDuke ticket is the first campaign for national office launched by the Green Party of the United States. Campaign organizers admit the party's nominees will be on the ballot in only 29 states, but LaDuke said this presidential campaign is the beginning of a long-term process.

With a good showing in the polls the Green Party could pick up public election funding for state campaigns in 1998 and the next presidential race in 2000.

"The Greens have a right to qualify for funding," LaDuke said. "They are in 72 countries and in some places they have a good number of seats, so it's not like it's out of the blue."

The campaign has $5,000 to spend, less LaDuke noted, than Republicans spent on balloons at their convention in San Diego.

Though not inclined toward electoral politics, LaDuke said she couldn't pass up the chance to work with Nader, a childhood hero of hers.

LaDuke said she prefers Bill Clinton to Bob Dole. But she isn't worried about taking more votes from Democrats than Republicans because she's tired of being taken for granted.

"Welfare reform was the biggest slap in the face after all that baby-kissing," LaDuke said. "But if Clinton loses, it's because he's a fool. It's because he sat there and tried to court the corporate vote instead of listening to the people who put him there."

Green Party campaigner Lee Ann TallBear began her political career in the ranks of Democrat George McGovern's presidential campaign. She said she defected from the party after years of stalemate. "It's real disheartening as a grandmother to still be fighting the same battles for change for your grandchildren that you were fighting for your children," she said.

Nader plans campaign swings through the states where the Green Party will appear on the ballot. He said he plans to travel alone, without the campaign staff usually associated with presidential hopefuls. LaDuke said she also plans to travel some, but is concerned about attending to her family, farm and activities local to her home on the White Earth reservation.

She said her two young children aren't sure exactly what to make of her campaign.

She said her support on the reservation is generally good. "The new tribal council thought it was really interesting," she said. "One older man didn't know who was president now, but said he'd vote for me."

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Albion Monitor September 3, 1996 (

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