Winona LaDuke’s old nonprofit is back in the news

Honor the Earth settles lawsuit with the state attorney general. The Star Tribune reports.

Winona LaDuke, a native-American environmental activist and two-time Green Party Vice-Presidential candidate (1996, 2000) incorporated Honor the Earth in Minnesota in 2012. She is still listed as the organization’s president and trademark holder in official state documents.

The Star Tribune reports that LaDuke stepped down from the organization in April 2023 after the nonprofit lost a $750,000 sexual harassment lawsuit to a former employee. After that lawsuit, Keith Ellison, the state attorney general, began his investigation into the group.

LaDuke no longer appears on the group’s list of employees or board members. The nonprofit itself appears to have relocated to Rapid City, South Dakota.

The group issued a press release upon concluding the most recent lawsuit. Honor the Earth notes that the nonprofit severed all ties to its founder and two formerly-related organizations: Akiing 8th Fire and the Anishinaabe Agricultural Institute.

Last April, I did a deep dive into LaDuke’s organization, focusing on the self-dealing between and betwixt her many nonprofit and for-profit entities. I won’t repeat those findings here.

In the attorney general’s latest court filing, he documents (p. 2, paragraph 7) how Honor the Earth, under LaDuke’s leadership, made payments to four LaDuke relatives, “for purposes that did not benefit the corporation.” Honor the Earth reports that it has ceased the employment of all LaDuke family members.

[Update: LaDuke and her attorney released a rebuttal to the Attorney General.]

The nonprofit Akiing 8th Fire, and a related LLC, were both incorporated by LaDuke in April 2018.

According to Honor’s most-recently completed IRS Form 990 tax return (for 2021), LaDuke paid herself compensation totaling $97,000. The 2021 return indicates that Honor the Earth made grants (cash and in-kind) to Akiing of about $700,000 and to the Agricultural Institute of $68,500.

Akiing’s most recent tax return (for 2022) indicates that LaDuke, as board chair, paid herself a salary of over $109,000. Akiing reports receiving government grants totaling $25,000 that year. Akiing reports receiving a total of $2,400,000 from Honor the Earth in 2022, representing the majority of Akiing’s revenue.

LaDuke no longer appears on Akiing’s list of board members.

The Anishinaabe Agricultural Institute still lists LaDuke as a staff member. In addition, the Institute still lists Honor the Earth as a partner organization, along with Akiing and the LaDuke vehicles White Earth Land Recovery Project and Winona’s Hemp, among others.

The state Agricultural Dept. reports paying the institute $25,000 in 2019 and $3,143 in 2023.

Don’t worry about LaDuke, though. She’s scheduled to give a speech on Tuesday (Feb. 6) at the prestigious Wellesley College in Massachusetts.