Keeping the Flame Alive
Take inspiration from the lives and work of six women
whose passion for justice and commitment to their communiities
make the world a better place for all.
Table Candidate: Winona LaDuke
-Speak Truth to Power: Kek Galabru, Wangari Maathai, Senal
Sarihan, Maria Teresa Tula
- Street Fighting Woman: Cheri Honkala
- Mementos of a Movement: Coline Jenkins-Sahlin
Disney Shrunk the Kids
What's in your child's VCR these days? We asked progressive
parents and their kids what they watch. The answers might
Dorothy Roberts talks about reproductive rights in black
Women and Venture Capital: Women vie for a place in
the world of high-tech venture capital.
Notes: Grrl power to Scotland ASAP and more
Page: Making Mischief
Who's Coming to Dinner Now?, by Angela Dillard
Toy Guns, by Lisa Norris
Boy Still Missing, by John Searles
Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
Women and Popular Music, by Sheila Whiteley
Person: Give Me Shelter
-Columns: Daisy Hernandez, Patricia Smith and Gloria
for Woman of the Year
Tell us who you think should be recognized in this special
Excerpted from the April/May 2001 issue.
Picture a candidate for vice president of the United States
who is truly outside the system: a woman, half-Jewish, a person
A candidate who cares about the pollution in our air and water,
who lives far off the Washington Beltway on an Indian reservation.
Lets say this candidate has worked for over half her life as
an activist for antinuclear causes and counts some of the poorest
people in the country as her constituents. Imagine she says
things like Its women that public policy should be written for.
One might think that candidate would be cause for a major feminist
celebration. But when Winona LaDuke reprised her 1996 role as
the Green partys vice-presidential candidate, running alongside
Ralph Nader in the 2000 election (at least on the buttons and
bumper stickers), there was very little dancing in the streets
by feminist activists. And if you looked at the media surrounding
the campaign, you might think Nader's running mate was rock
star Eddie Vedder, who appeared with him at many campaign stops.
Given that the primary criticism against Nader, the corporate-raider
and oligarch-hater, was that he didnt get any women s issues
beyond suffrage and didnt speak to people of color, why wasn't
this 41-year-old Anishinaabe single mother, environmentalist,
feminist, and economist front and center?
Conversation with Winona LaDuke
Jennifer Baumgardner: Why didnt the campaign emphasize
that you are a feminist and a leader with your own vision?
Winona LaDuke: I do think that my issues that didn t
overlap with Ralphs were marginalized, but I would never put
that on Ralph. You know, I ve worked with groups like the Indigenous
Womens Network for 20 years. I don't believe that womens issues
are simply Roe v. Wade. They're quality of health care; quality
of the life in your family; domestic violence, and the violence
around you in your community. The toxins getting into breast
milk. Pro-choice is one issue in a spectrum of issues, and I
dont consider it the most important one. Ralph didn t say much
about womens issues because he s a 67-year-old Lebanese bachelor
and his familiarity with some of the experiences that I have
had is nonexistent. He speaks from his own experience.
JB: What do you say to the criticism that you talk about
motherhood rather than feminism?
I talk about womens right to determine their destiny, to be
treated with dignity and respect. The living wage, health care,
welfare reform, these aren t motherhood issues, theyre women
s issues. I mean, welfare reform was a pretty antiwoman piece
of legislation, especially in this community where weve got
50 percent at poverty level. Where are they going to work?
JB: The Greens got on 44 state ballots, raised almost
$8 million, mobilized 150,000 volunteers, and started hundreds
of local groups. How are you building on the momentum?
WL: Ralph says, We are going back into our communities
to build alliances and strengthen the party from the inside.
I m going to work on a campaign for corporate accountability
that links indigenous health work with, for example, a center
for breast cancer research. Im going to cash in my political
capital if I have any!
JB: When I first met you, you said that youd relish a
chance to discuss in Ms. the tension between the way
you organize with women and the mainstream women s movement.
Heres your chance.
WL: Well, that s a doozy. Lets take the focus on choice
I hate that kind of forced prioritizing. I dont run my house
doing just one thing, I do eight things at once. We need to
be broadening the discussion toward the human rights of women,
which is a whole set of issues. In the context of most native
women, you cannot separate the woman from her community. We
have always had roles that women have and roles men have. My
assessment of my community, and I can t speak for all native
communities, is that we got the confusion about roles all worked
out a long time ago.
You can read the complete article in the magazine,
on newstands now.