The racism claim was repeated in a press release shared on Tuesday afternoon by organization co-founders Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. In it, the musicians better known as The Indigo Girls showered praise on LaDuke, pointing to “her tireless work, her wisdom, her brilliance and her humanity.” “Working under her mentorship these past 30 years has been the privilege of a lifetime, and we will continue to learn from Winona as she does her life’s work,” Ray and Saliers said in characterizing LaDuke as a leader to them. The glowing release had not been posted on the website of Honor The Earth as of late Wednesday evening. Instead, honortheearth.org featured a statement from Krystal Two Bulls, who confirmed that she was functioning as the organization’s executive director following LaDuke’s departure. In the statement, Two Bulls, who came on board as “co-executive director” only in January, acknowledged a general need for organizations like Honor The Earth to address sexual harassment. But in the more favorable release, she too offered a positive assessment of her predecessor despite all the missteps that led to the negative verdict. “I am humbled to continue the bright legacy of Winona LaDuke who made countless personal and professional self-sacrifices throughout her life in service to Honor the Earth and all the communities it interacts with,” said Two Bulls, who is Oglala Lakota and Northern Cheyenne.
Indigo Girls @AmyRay & @EmilySaliers praise Winona LaDuke for "brilliance" in press release where disgraced founder of Honor The Earth says $750,000 verdict in sexual harassment & retaliation case was result of racism-rather than @HonorTheEarth's actions. https://t.co/x7xXa1IgNZ pic.twitter.com/yXKHKGMzXA— indianz.com (@indianz) April 5, 2023
Even Paul DeMain, a longtime and experienced journalist who serves as chair of the organization’s board of directors, said that LaDuke could have stayed put even after she took responsibility for the sexual harassment and retaliation that occurred in Honor The Earth’s workplace. He said her resignation was accepted “regrettably” by his colleagues — following lengthy discussions on Tuesday. But in an internet message seen by Indianz.Com, DeMain seemed to indicate all was not well at Honor The Earth. He told a Native woman who spoke out about the case on social media that the organization had strong grounds to pursue an appeal of the $750,000 verdict — potentially resulting in Campbell losing a lawsuit that has generated widespread news coverage. However, he said the board voted not to appeal the decision as doing so might put the Honor The Earth and some 50 employees “out of business” even if the organization were to emerge victorious in further litigation. In subsequent correspondence with Indianz.Com, DeMain confirmed the contents of the internet message but insisted that Honor The Earth isn’t in any danger of shutting down. “I am confident that with the new leadership and a reorganization that will not be the case,” the Oneida and Ojibwe journalist said via email. DeMain also confirmed that — like LaDuke — the issue of race factors prominently into his framing of the sexual harassment and retaliation that occurred at Honor The Earth. In the message to the Native woman, he described Campbell as a “young white girl.” In the message, DeMain wrote: “the 7 female board of directors and I as Chair, did not intentionally do anything to damage this young white girl.” DeMain told Indianz.Com that his race, gender and age based description of Campbell, who started working at Honor The Earth in 2009, is accurate. “I did refer to Molly Campbell as a young white girl, which she is, or was back 10 years ago,” DeMain said.
Winona LaDuke has resigned as executive director of Honor The Earth, after $750,000 verdict faulting organization she founded for sexual harassment and retaliation of a former employee.— indianz.com (@indianz) April 5, 2023
Krystal Two Bulls now serving as executive director @HonorTheEarth.https://t.co/3LNdJKaCaX
One of Indian Country’s most prominent environmental activists has been ordered to pay $750,000 to a former employee after being found liable for sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace.…
LaDuke also did not apologize for bringing Dahl into Honor The Earth’s inner circle. Even after she was informed by Campbell and other Native women advocates about serious sexual abuse incidents involving her former contract employee, she continued to praise him publicly and kept him in the loop about a minor who had accused him of sexual assault, documents filed in court show. Documents further show that LaDuke and the board of directors for Honor The Earth were told about a “known predator” in the organization’s circle — some four years after the Dahl scandal in 2015. Yet a member of the board suggested that the individual shouldn’t be dismissed even as she wrote in an email that he “hurt a lot of people” — including minors. And a year after that, a different board member stepped down after being accused of sexual misconduct by a young Native person and by people in the music industry, starting in early 2020. At the time, LaDuke was confident in telling Indianz.Com: “I know he is not a rapist.” The sexual harassment and retaliation case is Margaret Campbell v. Honor The Earth, No. 03-CV-19-266. Documents can be accessed on Minnesota Court Records Online by going to the “Case Search” tab and entering “03-CV-19-266” under the “Case Number” option on the website. The case was handled by Judge Gretchen D. Thilmony, who was first appointed to the bench by a Democratic governor in 2016 and previously served on the Anishinabe Sexual Assault Response Team and the Public Safety Committee for the White Earth Nation and was a Public Safety in Indian Country partner with the Department of Justice. Incidentally, she is the first woman to serve as a judge in Becker County, located in an area described by LaDuke and Honor The Earth as the “Deep North.” The term is a comparison to the “Deep South” — meaning a place of deep-seated, institutionalized racism.
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