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High honor for Winona LaDuke

Sunday, a northwest Minnesota woman was among a select group of women enshrined into the National Women's Hall of Fame in ceremonies in New York state.

Sunday, a northwest Minnesota woman was among a select group of women enshrined into the National Women's Hall of Fame in ceremonies in New York state.

Winona LaDuke, 48, who lives on the White Earth Reservation and is a frequent visitor to Bemidji to speak about environmental issues, was one of nine American women inductees to the National Women's Hall of Fame, founded in historic Seneca Falls, NY, the site of the first Women's Rights Convention in 1848. They join 217 women who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame since 1969.

LaDuke's credentials are solid as not only a role model for American Indians but also as a successful woman. Billed an environmental activist, LaDuke is also a successful businesswoman, a politician, a grass-roots organizer and a spokeswoman for a number of causes, including protecting native wild rice from genetic research which may harm a crop that has great spiritual meaning to American Indian culture.

She's also an academician, as a graduate of Harvard and Antioch universities, and is a voice who lends credibility in advocating for public support and funding for frontline native environmental groups. She's authored several books, including "Last Standing Woman," "All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life" and "Recovering the Sacred: The Power of Naming and Claiming."

In politics, she twice ran as a Green Party vice presidential candidate, on the ballot with consumer advocate Ralph Nader as president.

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Her efforts as an advocate have gained national attention, such as being nominated in 1994 by Time Magazine as one of America's most promising leaders under age 40, and in 1998 as Ms. Magazine's Woman of the Year.

LaDuke, however, chose to stay on her native reservation, working for her people. She has operated a native goods store and coffee shop on the reservation, and currently serves as director of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, whose mission is "to facilitate recovery of the original land base of the White Earth Indian Reservation, while preserving and restoring traditional practices of sound land stewardship, language fluency, community development and strengthening our spiritual and cultural heritage."

Sunday LaDuke joined others in the National Women's Hall of Fame: engineer Dr. Eleanor K. Baum, philanthropist and social reformer Swanee Hunt, astronomer Dr. Judith Pipher and five historic figures such as well-known cook Julia Child who died in 2004 and Martha Coffin Wright, one of five visionary women who organized the first women's rights convention in 1848 at Seneca Falls and one of the few women who attended the 1833 founding meeting of the American Anti-Slavery Society.

All of northwest Minnesota should feel proud that one of our own will join such a distinguished honor roll which acclaims women who have made valuable contributions to society, and especially to the freedom of women.

THE BEMIDJI PIONEER

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