New Indigenous Stewardship Club at KU aims to build community, partnerships

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A new student organization at KU invites students from both universities in Lawrence to “embark on a journey of (re)discovery” through community stewardship. 

The Indigenous Stewardship Club will focus on more than land stewardship. 


“I want it to be us stewarding ourselves, our people, our community,” explained Vic Secondine, president of the club. “There’s a lot to love and care for so that’s what I want it to be about.”

Secondine, Two Spirit citizen of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, is a current PREP scholar and will begin a doctoral program in ecology and evolutionary biology at KU this fall.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Vic Secondine

The need for such a club “was obvious” to Secondine, whose worldview “puts us humans as stewards … That’s the role we’re supposed to play.” There are groups at KU for Indigenous students and environmental clubs, but they don’t focus on Traditional Ecological Knowledge or stewardship.

Secondine emphasized the importance of focusing on and reclaiming TEK. “Getting our people back on the land and doing stewarding practices will help us come back to our cultures.”

After Secondine had the vision for the club, they contacted Melinda Adams, N’dee San Carlos Apache. Adams, who will serve as the club’s faculty sponsor, is a professor in Indigenous studies as well as geography and atmospheric science at KU. 

Adams’ research is “at the intersection of fire ecology, climate change, and Indigenous ways of knowing and being.” As the club’s faculty sponsor, she said she plans to “support students’ connection to stewarding lands and waters and will offer cultural burn demonstrations and native seed replanting as some of the stewardship club’s spring activities.”

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Melinda Adams holds dried prairie sage, which is used to begin a prescribed burn, Nov. 29, 2023.

The club will emphasize the importance of community involvement in stewardship work by partnering with other community organizations. 

The club’s activities will be open for Haskell and KU students to attend, as well as children and other community members. Secondine hopes to host workshops and other activities, such as basketmaking with cattails from the wetlands, quillwork, and fingerweaving in collaboration with community partners. 

In addition to hosting workshops, the club will act as a volunteer base for community organizations that already have workloads and projects. 

“A lot of the time you’ll see people advertising workdays and trying to find volunteers,” Secondine said. “I want this club to be a connection … I want to build those relationships.”

Community members interested in partnering with the club or attending club activities can email indigenous.stewardship (at) gmail (dot) com. The group also has a Facebook page

The club will have a Zoom meeting for anyone interested in learning more at 1 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15. See more details at this link.

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Molly Adams (she/her), photojournalist and news operations coordinator for The Lawrence Times, can be reached at molly (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Check out more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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