In Anishinaabe prophecies our time is referred to as the time of the 7th fire, a time when our people will be given the choice between the green path and the scorched path. We have walked down the scorched path of fossil fuels and GMO’s for too long. With Winona’s Hemp and Heritage Farm, we are moving forward armed with our ancestral wisdom to create the regenerative economies our children deserve to inherit. To do this, we will work with tribal and non-tribal producers to create a value-added hemp industry. The industry will focus on hemp fiber for paper, clothing and hemp food products. It’s time for us to move forward towards a green future. It’s time for Winona’s Hemp.
Winona’s Hemp and Heritage Farm will generate local wealth in our community by establishing a training institute for indigenous foods and hemp farming and working with our youth to create the next generation of Anishinaabe farmers.
ABOUT WINONA LADUKE
My dream of establishing Winona’s Hemp and Heritage Farm was inspired by the decades I’ve spent fighting to protect Anishinaabe culture, seeds, lands and waters. For the past thirty-five years, I’ve worked to challenge the structural inequities of the Anishinaabe economy. Beginning with the White Earth Land Recovery Project, formed in 1989, I’ve worked with my community to challenge in the courts, regulatory arenas, and on the ground the taking of our lands. As a plaintiff in federal lawsuits in the 1990s, I joined with other tribal members to challenge the illegal theft of 90% of our reservation. Seeing little justice, we formed the White Earth Land Recovery Project, which I directed for 20 years. During my tenure, we were able to secure the return of 1400 acres of land, including cemeteries, maple sugarbush territories, farm land, and a formal elementary school. Working with others, we were able to install solar thermal and wind on our buildings, and on tribal houses on the reservation.
In 2000, we began a battle to defend our sacred wild rice from genetic engineering. We struggled for seven years, but managed to secure state legislation which would bar the introduction of any genetically engineered wild rice seed into the state of Minnesota without a full Environmental and Cultural Impact Statement, effectively stopping those who would threaten our sacred food. For our work, in 2003, we were awarded the International Slow Food Award for Biodiversity. In 2016, we became founding members of the Turtle Island Slow Food Association, the first Indigenous Slow Food Association in the world, and I have continued to be actively involved in food sovereignty.
My father once told me that he didn’t want to hear my philosophy unless I was able to grow corn, and so beginning in the late 1990s, I became a traditional corn farmer, along with beans, squash and tobacco. All of this was grown on WELRP and later tribal lands, as I have not had my own land. As an economist, I have looked often at the economic issues of food systems. In 2008, I did a study on my reservation that found that the tribal food economy was hemorrhaging money, noting that of the $8 million spent by households on food, almost all of it was spent off reservation. Furthermore, that which was spent on-reservation was at convenience stores, buying primarily fast food. So let’s say that the issue of local and traditional food production remains central to my heart.
Anishinaabe Akiing, our territory is a beautiful land of biodiversity and pristine waters. Our people, however have suffered significantly from the appropriation of our land, and our economy. While much of the territory to the south and west of us faces agricultural runoff contamination, we have land which is still healthy, and waters which are still good. The 40-acre farm we have sought out for Winona’s Hemp and Heritage Farm has rich soils, healthy waters and a barn where we will store our seeds and hemp. This farm will be an anchor for the restoration of traditional varieties, hemp test plots, and a training place for horse powered agriculture.
I have farmed small plots with my two percheron mares for years, and I plan to expand this work. I want to scale up and join the 400,000 other horse powered farming operations in North America, understanding the sacred relationship between life, power and the future. I would like to live well, I am interested in decoupling food and hemp from fossil fuels, and I am also interested in the quality of life which small scale farming creates. I am interested in growing my horse powered farming operations for Winona's Hemp and Heritage Farm and for our community on the White Earth Reservation.
- SMALL-SCALE FARMING WITH HORSES- My friend Wes Jackson at the Land Institute, along with the legendary Wendell Berry have discussed much of the relationship between agriculture and energy use, and certainly the model of the many Amish family farmers who surround and are residents of the White Earth reservation provides examples of how to move to a sustainable small plot and intermediate scale of farming with horses. That is my goal. In terms of the technical aspects, the Land Institute study of the Sunshine Farm, found “Our energy accounting shows that the Sunshine Farm could supply about 40 percent of its embodied energy needs through animal feed, electricity, and biodiesel fuel for the tractor and vehicles. That is, a 4.5-kilowatt photovoltaic array on the Sunshine Farm has been converting sunlight into electricity required for the workshop tools, electric fencing, water pumping, and chick brooding. About one-fourth of the cropland on the Sunshine Farm has been devoted to soybeans and sunflowers for biodiesel fuel that could be commercially produced to meet all our field operations and off-farm transportation. Both the array and biodiesel are renewable energy; they produce more energy than they consume .3 Almost three-fourths of the animal feed consumed on the Sunshine Farm has been supplied by the oats, grain sorghum and alfalfa produced on the farm for the draft horses, beef cattle and poultry. The remaining 60 percent of the farm’s embodied energy needs is imported onto the farm through purchased inputs including amortized capital, such as supplies, commercial feed and seed, buildings, fences, water lines, tractors, vehicles, equipment, and the photovoltaic array.”
The transition from horse power to fossil fuels which occurred early in the 20th century had many implications, not only for biodiversity (many horse breeds were almost lost) but also for how we relate to the land and power.
I am a woman of many horses. These sacred beings have accompanied me throughout my life - and in the last five years, have been on the front lines of the protection of our water from the oil pipeline proposals - the Black Snake. You can see the my horses on the front lines of this battle in movie, First Daughter and the Black Snake. My coffee company and publishing house is called Spotted Horse Press and Coffees, and is named after my love for Appaloosa horses.
Some of the foundational horses from my herd have originated from Nez Perce (Niimiipoo) people of Idaho, and my Draft horses are from the Badlands, consisting of ponies to Percherons. The Draft horses, Rosebud and Aandeg, have been an essential part of the historic maple syruping operations here on the reservation. Our horses will also continue to be part of our healing, because we will grow Indigenous Horse Therapy for our next generation. The many challenges faced by our people, including historic trauma and socioeconomic stress, are well suited for horse therapy. Winona's Hemp and Heritage Farm will be a place for the horses and children, because that is how we live. We intend to ride, to care for our horses, and to continue to use our horses as a part of labor for our farm.
In the age when hemp is growing in popularity because of its wide range of uses, I find that I am most interested in fiber. That is perhaps because I am a seamstress, but more likely because of the huge environmental problems of clothing made of synthetics.
New studies indicate that the fibers in our clothes could be poisoning our waterways and food chain on a massive scale. Microfibers – tiny threads shed from fabric – have been found in abundance on shorelines where waste water is released. Researchers are researching the source of these plastic fibers.
In a 2016 study, researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that, on average, synthetic fleece jackets release 1.7 grams of microfibers each wash. It also found that older jackets shed almost twice as many fibers as new jackets. The study was funded by outdoor clothing manufacturer Patagonia, a certified B Corp that also offers grants for environmental work.
“These microfibers then travel to your local wastewater treatment plant, where up to 40% of them enter rivers, lakes and oceans,” according to findings published on the researchers’ website.
Those fibers are bio-accumulating in the fish. Microbeads, recently banned in the US, are a better-known variety of microplastic, but recent studies have found microfibers to be even more pervasive.
In a groundbreaking 2011 paper, Mark Browne, now a senior research associate at the University of New South Wales, Australia, found that microfibers made up 85% of human-made debris on shorelines around the world. That’s a pretty disgusting thought. Simply stated, I don’t want to have eaten fish for 50 years and then say, ‘Oh, whoops.’
Add to that the problems with manufacturing. Nylon manufacturing creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Making polyester uses large amounts of water for cooling, along with lubricants which can become a source of contamination. Both processes are also very energy-hungry. Rayon made from wood pulp seems cool, except that it’s treated with hazardous chemicals such as caustic soda and sulfuric acid.
Cotton would seem to be the easiest answer, except it’s drinking up our water and getting it contaminated. Think about this: half the world’s clothing is cotton, about 20 million tons produced annually. It can take more than 5283 gallons of water to make a single T-shirt and pair of jeans. 73% of global cotton harvest comes from irrigated land, and the ground water is getting contaminated. Agriculture, sadly, is the largest source of pollution in most countries. 2.4% of the world’s cropland is planted with cotton, and yet it accounts for 24% and 11% of the global sales of insecticide and pesticides respectively. (Minnesota and North Dakota, tragically already have widespread aquifer and lake contamination from industrialized agriculture).
Hemp. That’s the best answer. It’s about three times the tensile strength of cotton, mold and UV resistant, uses very little water, pesticides or fertilizers, builds soil… and until the 1920s was about 80% of the clothing made in the US. Minnesota itself had 11 hemp mills.
HEMP & THE WHITE EARTH RESERVATION
The White Earth reservation has taken a leap in industrial hemp production, trialing twelve varieties this year for fiber and for food crops. As a White Earth tribal member, I am very proud of my tribe, and as we move forward, I plan to work closely with my tribal community to grow hemp for our future - our economy, environment and health. With your support in getting my hemp farm up and running, we will be able to make great strides in moving toward a sustainable future. Miigwech!
Here is the description of the 94 minute documentary feature film.
Winona LaDuke believes Big Oil is the black snake predicted in indigenous prophecy to bring the earth's destruction. When new oil pipelines threaten sacred wild rice lakes, Winona dreams of riding her horse against the current of oil, organizing a spiritual ride, “because a horse can kill a snake.”
Winona’s Books signed Last Standing Woman, All Our Relations, Recovering the Sacred, internationally well renowned and well received recent published book, LaDuke ‘Chronicles,’ and Anne Dunn’s book Fire in the Village, in an artisan hemp box signed by author.
$1,000 PLEDGE OR MORE- Handmade Water Protector Dolls (Limited Edition)
Made from traditional materials of smoked leather, horse and buffalo hair, wool and beads. Wool is raw known as "Pipeline wool," from Lynn Mizner's farm in Palisade, MN and more.
$2,000 DOLLAR PLEDGE OR MORE- Oregon Flower Harvest original art by renowned artist, Betty LaDuke
$5,000 PLEDGE OR MORE- To receive Winona LaDuke's, "Spotted Horse Coffees," of the Month for one year (12-bags delivered), a hand made "Water Protector Doll." Plus bonus lecture (sample) and/or visit to your local community or institution by Winona LaDuke (travel must be paid).
Learn more ---> winonashemp.com
Risks and challenges
Some challenges we foresee are in obtaining Ukrainian seeds, and other fiber seed varieties. We plan to to work with our tribal government, to get the best seed varieties possible. We also see some challenges in finding the best hemp varieties that can thrive in our soil. We hope to provide our hemp with organic fertilizers until we can find the hemp that will thrive on our lands. Our other concern is the need to develop the vertically integrated infrastructure for fiber and milling. This will be part of the next phase in the development of Winona's Hemp and Heritage Farm.
Our answers are found in our deep farming experience, and our ability to work with our tribal government expanding jurisdiction and securing seeds. We plan to secure some seeds this fall from the harvest here, and work with the tribe to purchase new seeds. We are hopeful that larger scale manufacturing moves forward. In the meantime, we intend to pursue artisan hemp.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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