State says activist Winona LaDuke mishandled funds, failed to investigate misconduct

Despite these controversies, LaDuke has been embraced and defended by Minnesota Democrats.

Honor the Earth executive director Winona LaDuke speaks before the House Legacy Finance Committee March 17. (Minnesota House Info/YouTube)

Court documents made public this week claim a prominent Minnesota activist mishandled her organization’s finances by making payments to relatives without proper approval or oversight.

Additionally, a state investigation found the organization did not properly investigate claims of misconduct and sexual harassment, the documents state.

In a petition filed in Ramsey County District Court, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is attempting to put boundaries on Honor the Earth, a left-wing, Native American group which focuses on environmental issues.

Previously led by two-time Green Party vice-presidential candidate Winona LaDuke, Honor the Earth has become the subject of significant scrutiny over the last several years due to its confrontational left-wing activism and mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations.

Now, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) is asking a Ramsey County judge to approve an “Assurance of Discontinuance” petition regarding Honor the Earth. 

An Assurance of Discontinuance petition is an agreement where the AGO stipulates the terms and conditions by which an organization must abide in order for the organization to remain in good standing.

Founded in 1993 by LaDuke, Honor the Earth (HTE) says its mission is to “create awareness and support for Native environmental issues.” However, the organization has become well known for its impropriety.

Honor the Earth was at the forefront of the protests against the Line 3 oil pipeline in Minnesota. A former program manager of HTE even called for violent takeovers of infrastructure in the midst of the 2021 protests. LaDuke faced various criminal charges stemming from her efforts to disrupt the construction of the pipeline. However, those charges were later dismissed.

In April of 2023, a court ordered HTE to pay $750,000 in damages to a former staffer whose complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation within the organization were not handled properly. LaDuke resigned the same month the order was handed down. In her resignation letter, LaDuke attacked the former staffer and the “punitive, white” court system.

Despite these controversies, LaDuke has been embraced and defended by Minnesota Democrats.

Ramsey County petition

In its petition, the AGO states that LaDuke hired her sons, daughter, and sister to work at HTE and then issued “interest-free loans to these family members to pay for their rent and other bills or large purchases such as vehicles.”

Records reviewed by the AGO found that LaDuke frequently “authorized transactions between Honor the Earth and her family members who worked for the organization for purposes that did not benefit the corporation, without board approval, and often without proper documentation.”

“She also authorized reimbursements for expenses incurred by her family members without adequate documentation of how these expenses served Honor the Earth’s charitable purpose,” the petition says.

The AGO’s petition also references HTE’s mishandling of misconduct and sexual harassment complaints and the subsequent $750,000 in damages the organization was ordered to pay to a former employee.

“Documents produced by Honor the Earth show that Ms. LaDuke issued memoranda to the board dismissing additional complaints of sexual harassment and other misconduct within the organization without appropriate investigation,” the AGO’s petition says.

The AGO, which is responsible for maintaining oversight of nonprofits, said HTE also “failed to maintain its registration as a soliciting charity” but continued to solicit donations.

However, the court filing does state that HTE cooperated with an investigation brought by the AGO. Furthermore, the AGO states that HTE has made several changes to their organization since LaDuke left. These changes include adopting new compliance policies, appointing new board members, no longer employing LaDuke’s family members, and creating a plan to end the organization’s involvement with LaDuke’s other nonprofit organizations.

Honor the Earth will be required to conduct a review of its policies, perform an audit, properly file tax forms, comply with any other AGO investigations, and provide the AGO with updates on its compliance.

Honor the Earth’s new leadership issued a statement saying it welcomes the AGO’s action “as it signifies a new phase in Honor’s development.”

“The new iteration of Honor the Earth has worked tirelessly for the past ten months to redefine the legacy of organizing at Honor the Earth,” the organization said. “Since August 2023, Krystal and Honor the Earth’s Senior Management Team have doubled our efforts to develop operating procedures and policies that align with our values and prevent the organization from replicating the same structural harm that we claim to be fighting against.”

A judge has not yet approved the petition, although it has been signed by the Attorney General’s Office and an Honor the Earth representative.

While the Office of the Secretary of State lists Honor the Earth as a Minnesota organization, HTE’s website indicates the organization is now headquartered in Rapid City, S.D.

Alpha News has reported extensively on the many controversies surrounding LaDuke and Honor the Earth.


Luke Sprinkel

Luke Sprinkel previously worked as a Legislative Assistant at the Minnesota House of Representatives. He grew up as a Missionary Kid (MK) living in England, Thailand, Tanzania, and the Middle East. Luke graduated from Regent University in 2018.