Environmental advocate Winona LaDuke resigns from Honor the Earth

In the wake of a ruling in a sexual harassment case, an internationally recognized environmental advocate has resigned from the nonprofit she helped create.

Winona LaDuke announced Wednesday that she’s stepping away from Honor the Earth. She formally submitted her resignation on Monday.

Krystal Two Bulls, the group’s executive co-director, has now transitioned to the sole executive director, Honor the Earth says.

The move comes a week after a Becker County jury ordered the group to pay $750,000 to Margaret Campbell, who previously worked for the organization and accused another employee of sexual harassment.

Wednesday morning, LaDuke posted a long message on social media, saying, “For those of us in movement leadership positions, there are added pressures to always do the right thing, to always live up to the ideals of the movement, and to those who believe in our leadership. I have tried to do my best. But in 2014-2015, I failed Molly Campbell.”

She also wrote that Honor the Earth didn’t yet have any policies in place to deal with Campbell’s claims when she first raised them in 2014, and she and the rest of the organization were too focused on stopping Enbridge from constructing a pipeline.

“As a result, I did not rapidly and adequately act on the complex personnel and sexual harassment issues our organization faced internally,” LaDuke wrote, adding, “I deeply regret not responding to Ms. Campbell’s claims with the appropriate level of care.”

But her statement also said the court system targets Native people, particularly in Becker County, where the jury was mostly white.

“In such a forum, it was unsurprising that the result would be a staggering and disproportionate fine against Honor the Earth,” LaDuke wrote.

Two Bulls joined the organization in December, and a transition plan to make her executive director was already underway, according to Honor the Earth and LaDuke.

“In order to move ahead with the important work that Honor the Earth does in Native communities and for the protection of the environment in greater Minnesota with our friends and many allies across North America and around the world, the organization’s Board of Directors regrettably, but unanimously accepted Winona LaDuke’s Letter of Resignation yesterday,” Paul DeMain, the chair of Honor The Earth’s Board, said in a statement. “We will forever be grateful to Winona’s tireless service to this organization and the many people and organizations she has touched. She will continue to have an impact on the policy and battles that have defined her life. She is clear she wants to pick her battles well, so it is with both great heaviness and optimism that we move forward.”