White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP), a grassroots Native organization based in Minnesota and lead by Winona LaDuke, is sending out one last appeal at year-end for support for their various initiatives deeply rooted in indigenous values and cultural tradition, and geared at advancing tribal sovereignty and economic achievement.
In a letter to Indian country dated December 15, LaDuke, WELRP's executive director, asked for contributions to the organization at nativeharvest.com/donate to help advance their efforts to “protect our seeds, to restore our indigenous economy, to protect our relative the wolf, and to create a model renewable energy economy for our people.”
As a very small organization, WERLP is underfunded with few resources, she said.
“I humbly ask you for your donation in this time of giving,” LaDuke wrote. “As I look across the North Woods, I see our relatives—those with paws, fins and roots—and know that we have been important to their survival.”
Her letter highlighted the organization’s feats in 2012, while armed with little money but with sheer determination: protecting wildlife, recovering traditional foods, advancing tribal sovereignty, practicing sound land stewardship, promoting community development, and strengthening their spiritual and cultural heritage.
This past year, WELRP has protested the delisting of the wolf from the endangered species and urged the state and federal government to protect the wolves by creating wolf sanctuaries. “This year, our people stood for the wolf. Ma’iingan is one of our relatives,” LaDuke stated.
?WELRP has also preserved indigenous, sacred seeds. “We grew our oldest of relatives: an 800 year-old squash which originated in an archeological dig. We grew fifty of them, or so, and now have seeds to share with our Native communities across the North Country,” LaDuke said. “The squash seeds survived for 800 years in a clay pot, and now the squash is served to our elders, to our children, and used for our ceremonies. We are tremendously proud of our work.
“We grew more corn this year; ancient varieties collected from families, from seed savers, and from seed vaults. While the corn crop of Minnesota and Iowa failed and faltered, our old seeds survived drought and frost, and as we walked through the fields and prayed at our harvest, we found them there to greet us. We are thankful for this harvest.”
LaDuke additionally shared how WELRP has “brought the largest independent Native American radio station in Minnesota onto the airwaves.” Despite electrical storms and infrastructure failures, the station, Niijiiradio, remains dedicated to delivering the Ojibwe language, tribal stories, news and an “eclectic mixture of music” to the air for Natives and non-Natives in the North Country 24 hours a day.
The organization has also sourced solar energy, and due to bitter winters, this year they are working on installing solar thermal panels for the homes of some of the most in need on the White Earth Reservation, Minnesota's largest and most populous reservation.
“As others celebrate their high holidays, we are tremendously proud, as we have helped our spiritual traditions return to our people,” LaDuke said. “This year, for the first time in 56 years, we have our sacred lodge back on the White Earth reservation. Outlawed for many years, our most sacred of spiritual practices went underground. And, yet, we prevailed. Today, we are pleased to host our sacred lodges on our land—land you helped us purchase for the White Earth people. ??I cannot quantify to you the value of your support. I can only tell you stories about how it changes the lives of our relatives…the wolves, the corn, and the transformation in our lives…to be able to pray at home. ??In this season of thanksgiving, I am grateful for your support, and ask you, humbly, to support us once again with a donation for our future generations.?”
Donations to the White Earth Land Recovery Project can be made on the secure website: nativeharvest.com/donate.