NC Native Nation leaders attend higher education forum

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol L. Folt on Thursday signed a resolution with tribal leaders from the eight North Carolina Native Nations resolving to continue and strengthen the University’s commitment to research, education and service with those Native Nations.

The signing marked the culmination of the first annual Forum on the Role of Higher Education in NC Native Nation Building; the event was hosted by the UNC American Indian Center in partnership with The Friday Center.

The forum was historic because it was the first time leaders from all eight North Carolina tribes were present at a University event and recognized as sovereign Native Nations. They are:

  • Coharie Indian Tribe
  • Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
  • Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe
  • Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina
  • Meherrin Indian Nation
  • Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation
  • Sappony
  • Waccamaw Siouan Tribe

Dr. Miriam Jorgenson, an expert in indigenous public policy and the editor of Rebuilding Native Nations: Strategies for Governance and Development, presented the keynote address. She discussed the importance of recognizing the tribal Nations’ political and governmental status and how they can create a relationship with the University.

Jorgensen also offered advice for engaging in mutually beneficial relationships between tribal nations and universities – relationships that, she said, provide resources and the ability to influence policy while increasing diversity, innovation and meaningful community engagement at universities. She discussed that a successful relationship will affirm the tribal Nation in its self-determined control in shaping, implementing, and evaluating partnerships and that plans are built around the tribal Nation’s own values, needs, and goals.

The reception also included a performance by Miss Lumbee, Candice Locklear. Locklear is a student in the UNC School of Social Work and a staff member at the UNC American Indian Center.

The resolution signed by Folt and the eight Native Nations also officially recognizes November as American Indian Heritage Month at the UNC-Chapel Hill and emphasized the University’s commitment to holding similar gatherings to reinforce and strengthen relationships with the NC Native Nations.

The forum was made possible by the work of the NC Native Asset Coalition, facilitated by the UNC American Indian Center, and was generously supported by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.

By Olivia Hart, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Published October 24, 2014