IAIA - Institute of American Indian Arts

Keynote Speakers


Winona LaDuke, Environmentalist and Political Activist

Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development renewable energy and food systems. She lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, and is a two-time vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party.

As Program Director of the Honor the Earth, she works nationally and internationally on the issues of climate change, renewable energy, and environmental justice with Indigenous communities. And in her own community, she is the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, one of the largest reservation-based, non-profit organizations in the country. She is also a leader in the issues of culturally based sustainable development strategies, renewable energy and food systems. In this work, she continues national and international work to protect Indigenous plants and heritage foods from patenting and genetic engineering. In 2007, LaDuke was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, recognizing her leadership and community commitment. In 1994, LaDuke was nominated by Time magazine as one of America’s 50 most promising leaders under 40. She has been awarded the Thomas Merton Award in 1996, Ms. Woman of the Year (with the Indigo Girls in l997), and the Reebok Human Rights Award, with which in part she began the White Earth Land Recovery Project. The White Earth project has won many awards, including the prestigious 2003 International Slow Food Award for Biodiversity, which recognized the organization’s work to protect wild rice from patenting and genetic engineering.


Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network

Tom Goldtooth is the executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network based in Bemidji, Minnesota. For the past 38 years, he has been recognized as an activist for social change within Native America. A U.S. Army veteran in the early 70’s, Goldtooth went to college with a emphasis in social work and became involved in the development of social and family counseling, and support services in Native communities of Tacoma, Washington, the Navajo Nation, and the Lower Sioux community in Morton, Minnesota.

He later became executive director of the St. Paul American Indian Center in the early 1980’s. From his participation and leadership as a coordinator of the 1991 Environmental Program of Red Lake Nation at the First National People of Color Environmental Justice Leadership Summit to the 2010 World Peoples’ Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and the recent United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico, Goldtooth has become an environmental and climate justice leader, both locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. In 2000, he co-produced an award-winning documentary film, Drumbeat for Mother Earth, which addresses the affects of bio-accumulative chemicals on Native people. From the strength of his community organizing experience, he has brought local issues of environmental and economic justice, and the rights of Indigenous peoples to the national and international level. He has discussed the persistence of organic pollutants, including climate change, mineral extraction, protection of biodiversity, globalization and water. He is also a Sun Dance leader and active in his ceremonial responsibilities. Goldtooth is known for implementing innovative approaches for inspiring Native young people and students to take leadership in building healthy and sustainable Native communities.


Other Speakers


Born the youngest of 15 children in the highlands of Central America, Flordemayo was found at an early age – like others in her family – to have the gift of sight. By age four, she was being trained in the art of curanderismo, traditional healing, which had been handed down from mother to daughter for many generations. Her mother was a midwife and healer, and taught her daughters the use of herbs, women’s medicine and how women are to honor and care for the Earth.

Flordemayo now lives in New Mexico. She is a frequent presenter at international conferences. Since 1999, she has been part of the Wisdom of the Grandmothers’ Foundation. She is the recipient of the Martin de La Cruz Award for Alternative Healing, a prestigious honor given by the International Congress of Traditional Medicine. Flordemayo is also a founding director of the Institute for Natural and Traditional Knowledge. This organization has many active projects, including the establishment of an organic seed bank and educational outreach in support of traditional agriculture.