Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples keynote address to highlight symposium

EUGENE, Ore. -- (March 26, 2013) – The University of Oregon will host the second annual Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples keynote address at 6:30 p.m. on April 10 in the Many Nations Longhouse, 1630 Columbia St. in Eugene.

This keynote is part of the University of Oregon Climate Change Research Symposium from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Erb Memorial Union Fir Room.  The UO Climate Change Research Symposium brings together individuals whose research and works of art cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.   Professors and students in the arts, humanities, natural sciences and social sciences examine facets of climate change, including extreme weather events, wildfire, national park impacts, legal implications and climate ethics. The keynote lecture and other events associated with the symposium are free and open to the public.

The 2013 keynote address will feature Frank Lake, research ecologist from the USDA Forest Service-Pacific Southwest Research Station, and Kyle Powys Whyte, professor at Michigan State University. The keynote speakers will engage each other and the audience about why the impacts of climate change on indigenous peoples in the United States are unique and how a relationship of reciprocity between tribes and nature informs indigenous approaches to climate change.

Lake, who identifies as Karuk, Seneca, Cherokee and Mexican, will discuss his current research about how traditional ecological knowledge can be incorporated into scientific research to support adaptation and mitigation for climate change strategies. 

Whyte is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee, Okla. and is currently the principal investigator of Manajiwin Project: Respecting Tribes and First Nations in Environmental Management. The project addresses natural resource and environmental issues like climate change that have impacts across broad geographic areas and require cross-boundary management approaches.

According to Kathy Lynn, conference co-organizer and director of the PNW Tribal Climate Change Project, fostering opportunities for dialogue on issues facing indigenous communities from climate change is critical to understanding the threats that indigenous communities are facing from climate change, including loss of tribal lands and cultural resources.

“This annual lecture is increasing the understanding of not only how climate change may impact indigenous peoples in the United States, but the unique approaches that American Indian and Alaska Native tribes have in addressing climate change," said Lynn.

Co-organizer Mark Carey, a professor of history in the UO Robert D. Clark Honors College, says that "it is crucial to recognize how climate change disproportionately affects indigenous peoples not only the Pacific Northwest but also throughout the United States and worldwide.”

“The widespread interest and support for last year's event makes it exciting to now have the second annual climate change and indigenous peoples event here on campus, showing how the UO and Eugene communities can benefit from the wisdom of these visiting experts while also playing a key role in these broader discussions about native peoples and climate change," Carey added.

This event is co-sponsored by the UO Americas in a Globalized World Initiative, UO Robert D. Clark Honors College, the UO Environmental Studies Program, and the UO Climate Change Research Group.

The keynote address is also part of the Tribal Climate Change Project, a collaborative project between the UO Environmental Studies Program and the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is among the 108 institutions chosen from 4,633 U.S. universities for top-tier designation of "Very High Research Activity" in the 2010 Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. The UO also is one of two Pacific Northwest members of the Association of American Universities.

MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Brown, UO communications, 541-346-3185,

SOURCE: Kathy Lynn, UO Environmental Studies, 541-346-5777,; Mark Carey, UO Clark Honors College, 541-346-8077,

Note: The University of Oregon is equipped with an on-campus television studio with satellite uplink capacity, and a radio studio with an ISDN phone line for broadcast-quality radio interviews.