LAWRENCE, Kan. — Native Americans are among the populations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but they often don’t have the economic resources to address the problems, a professor said during a conference at Haskell Indians University.

“Native people have tremendous insight into what we may do differently,” said Dan Wildcat, who teaches American Indian studies at Haskell and is a Yuchi member of the Muscogee Nation. “We rely very closely on the water, on the land, on the plants, on the animals. When those things are threatened, it threatens our culture.”

Wildcat was among several participants at the “Climate Changed: Reflections on Our Past, Present and Future Situation” conference, which ran Thursday through Friday at the university in Lawrence.

The conference was organized by the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Working Group, which was established 10 years ago at Haskell, The Lawrence Journal-World reported ( The group aims to ensure that students and faculty at tribal colleges and universities get opportunities to help tribal nations prepare for climate change.

Wildcat also said climate change presented particular challenges for those who live on sovereign lands and who can’t simply move if those lands encounter climate-related problems.

Panel participant Michael Dunaway of the Choctaw Nation, a Haskell and University of Kansas graduate working on his doctoral degree at Cornell University, said he studies indigenous energy and sovereignty issues, such as seeking ways for tribal communities to control their own energy or even operate off the grid.

“It’s important, especially when you’re dealing with climate change issues, for natives to set their own agendas,” Dunaway said.

Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World,