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Educator Spotlight: Daniel Wildcat

Daniel R. Wildcat, Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, is the director of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center and dean of the College of Natural and Social Sciences at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.

After serving two years in the U.S. Army, Wildcat attended the University of Kansas where he received both his bachelor’s and master’s in sociology.

He said it was during the first week of his undergraduate classes that he decided he wanted to become a professor.

“I was watching my professors very closely,” he said, “and I got to thinking, Wow, there are jobs where they’ll pay you to read books, to write, to study, to constantly be thinking critically. I thought, This sounds like a pretty good job! And I decided that first week [that] I was going to be a university professor.”

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A staunch advocate of tribal colleges and universities, Wildcat said he believes Indian colleges and universities deserve broader recognition for their contributions to academia and society.

“The tribal colleges and universities really are the heartbeat of our nations, our sovereignty, our future,” he said. “I feel very strongly that our tribal colleges and universities are the most underutilized, the most overlooked, the most underfunded sources of wealth we have in Indian country.”

Wildcat has authored a variety of books, including Power and Place: Indian Education in America, which he co-wrote with the late Vine Deloria Jr.

In his 25 years at Haskell Indian Nations University, Wildcat has been invited to guest lecture at Harvard Medical School and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Last April, he co-chaired the Rights of Mother Earth Symposium with Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network at Haskell. Wildcat said he intends to make the symposium an annual event.