Native Sun News: Author Dan Wildcat to speak in South Dakota

The following story was written and reported by Talli Nauman. All content © Native Sun News.

redalert.jpg RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA — Global warming makes Daniel Wildcat angry -- about forced relocation, the professor at Haskell Indian Nations University says in his new book Red Alert!

With any luck, Wildcat will explain what climate change and Indian relocation have to do with each other, when he gives keynote speeches in Rapid City on April 15, at the Surbeck Center Ballroom of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Campus.

A founding co-director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center, in Lawrence, Kan., Wildcat will address the second annual Green Energy and Sustainability Conference, from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the American Indian Science & Engineering Society 2011 AISES Region V Conference from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, Red Alert! pretty well details what makes this Yuchi member of the Muskogee Nation of Oklahoma see red.

In what he calls the fourth removal of indigenous people of North America from ancestral land, he writes: “This removal is not simply a governmental social policy imperative of the non-indigenous majority population. This relocation is mandated by a much deeper, more fundamental crisis: the way we live,” he writes.

Rampant burning of fossil fuel energy and the resultant greenhouse gas is at the root of the evil, he notes.

“As ice-sheets and glaciers melt, permafrost thaws, and seacoasts and riverbanks erode in the near and circumpolar arctic, peoples indigenous to these places will be forced to move. The removals resulting from our climate burning activities will affect every nation on the planet,” he says.

Wildcat’s presentations at the conferences are part of an agenda showcasing indigenous perspectives on energy development, with other keynote addresses by Oglala Lakota environmental-engineering Ph.D. Otakuye Conroy and Mi’kmaq Ph.D. in Atmosphere, Environment and Water Resources Tom Bull Bennett, as well as a talk by Oglala Lakota activist Nick Tilsen, executive director of the Pine Ridge Thunder Valley Community Development Corp.

Wildcat is guided by American Indian and Alaska Native earth knowledge and wisdom. His doctoral degree in public administration and social science supports his interest in the societal implications of climate change. The subtitle of Red Alert! is Saving the Planet with Indigenous Knowledge.

In it, he outlines three previous removals of North America’s Native Americans, one from land, one social, and one psycho-cultural, as he puts it.

“Many of us have trails-of-tears stories … beyond the most well-known removal of the so-called civilized tribes of the southeastern United States to Oklahoma in 1838,” he writes.

“The stubborn resilience of our ancestors was again tested during a second displacement: the removal of our children from our homes and families to off-reservation boarding schools,” he continues.

“Education was only one, albeit the most potent, representative of the final removal attempt waged by every social institution that American society could bring to bear on who we were as indigenous peoples,” he adds.

Yet the tenacity of ancestors and elders has maintained links to the indigenous heritage of “place-shaped knowledge” that points a way for humankind to remake the status quo for a sustainable development model in harmony with nature, he notes.

“We are indeed facing a climate change, and in order to effectively address this change, our cultural climate will have to change, too,” he writes.

Red Alert! joins two previous Wildcat books. He is the coauthor, with Vine Deloria, Jr., of Power and Place: Indian Education in America (Fulcrum, 2001), and coeditor, with Steve Pavlik, of Destroying Dogma: Vine Deloria, Jr. and His Influence on American Society (Fulcrum, 2006). Red Alert! is available from Fulcrum Publishing, Inc. at www.fulcrum-books.com/productdetails.cfm?PC=5908 The Green Energy and Sustainability Conference is sponsored by AISES and the Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs at SDSM&T. Its title this year is “Leading Voices for Renewable Energies, Sustainability and Self-Reliance”. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a co-sponsor. The ensuing AISES conference lasts from April 15 through April 17, including a wacipi.

Otakuye Conroy, who will speak on April 15 and 16, is teaching core environmental engineering courses at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She is testing methods to reduce sulfur- and carbon-based odors as well as enhancing methane production from biological treatments. In her field of water and waste treatment she specializes in removal of micro pollutants - specifically endocrine disruptors and pharmaceuticals.

At the University of Arizona, where she received her doctoral degree, she worked on female hormones found in both groundwater and soils affected by wastewater. Her focus was on determining the transformation of endocrine disrupters in the Santa Cruz River Valley and in Central Arizona Project water. The work was part of a study to determine how wastewater can be recycled and reused.

Conroy is the first member of her family to earn college degrees. She went on to serve as: research fellow in Climate and Energy at the National Congress of American Indians, Washington, D.C.; adjunct faculty member in Mathematics at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona; project engineer for Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts; research technician for the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Laboratory in Denver, Colorado; and science teacher for Arizona State University East American Indian Programs, Mesa, Arizona, and for SDSM&T Skill Program. She is a national board member of AISES.

Timothy Bull Bennett, who speaks on April 15 and 16, manages science programs, mentors students and faculty, and coordinates science initiatives for the six member institutions of the North Dakota Association of Tribal Colleges. He was the first Native American to earn a Ph.D. from SDSM&T.

Living with his family in Mandan, Bull is originally from Brunswick, Maine. He grew up in Wyoming, then earned a B.S. in Biology from Black Hills State University and an M.S. in Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming.

He studied captive propagation of black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) as part of the National Black-Footed Ferret Conservation Center recovery program in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Unit.

Funded by a NASA Earth System Science Fellowship and the National Science Foundation, Bull focused his doctoral dissertation on utilizing geospatial technologies and biophysical parameters to assess bison management on shortgrass-shrub prairie in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming.

He has worked at Oglala Lakota College and Si Tanka College in South Dakota, teaching biology, ecology, rangeland ecosystems and wildlife, specializing in bison’s role in maintaining and restoring rangelands.

April 15 speaker Nick Tilsen is a founding member of the Coalition of Young Social Innovators on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He founded the Lakota Action Network, a youth organization working to protect sacred sites while promoting sustainable alternatives in renewable energy. He served as the executive director of the organization for four years.

Tilsen has served as the youth coordinator for the Teton Sioux Nation Treaty Council, working to get Lakota Treaty and human rights issues heard at the United Nations. He served as director of LakotaMall.com for three years, in an effort to create economic opportunities through the use of the internet.

(Talli Nauman is a co-director of Journalism to Raise Environmental Awareness. Contact her at talli.nauman@gmail.com)

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