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Thunderbird Woman

Winona LaDuke
2003 | 86 min | Recommended min. age: 16 y

Where’s Winona? This question chases after Winona LaDuke almost everywhere she goes, because this dynamic woman is constantly in motion. Winona is an Anishinaabe from the Mississippi Band of the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota. Her mother was a Jewish artist; her father, a Native American who was a stuntman in numerous Hollywood Westerns before he became famous in New Age circles as the visionary Sun Bear.

Aged just seventeen, Winona travelled to Geneva to speak out about indigenous issues at the UNO. Having completed her studies in Economics at Harvard, she settled down in White Earth reservation in rugged northern Minnesota: the land of ten thousand lakes and the homeland of her father.

There, she set to work restoring the local land base and traditional culture. In 1994, Time Magazine named her one of America’s 50 most promising leaders under 40 years of age.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader chose her as his Vice Presidential running mate on the Green Party ticket in the 1996 and 2000 elections.

So where’s Winona? When Thunderbird Woman is not spending time with her three children, she might be off on a speaking tour, or dancing at the powwow, or be found behind her desk working on her latest book, or down in the Southwest organizing resistance against uranium and coal mining on reservation lands, or out in a canoe harvesting wild rice. Or maybe she’s simply back in the kitchen preparing pesto, because, “Basil is my recipe against stress”. This film finds her.

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