225 years of Tar Heels: Linda Ellen Oxendine

Linda Ellen Oxendine is celebrated for making the Carolina community more inclusive, particularly for American Indian students.

Linda Ellen Oxendine headshot

When Linda Ellen Oxendine graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1967, she became one of the first American Indian women to do so. But her graduation from Carolina wasn’t the first — or last — time that she would break barriers.

Oxendine made a profound impact throughout her career across the UNC System, serving as chair of the American Indian Studies department and director of the Native American Resource Center at UNC-Pembroke, and later returning to UNC-Chapel Hill as elder in residence for the American Indian Center.

A member of the Lumbee tribe, Oxendine has engaged in teaching and scholarship that represent some of the biggest contributions to the preservation of knowledge about Lumbee history, language and culture. The Lumbee are one of eight state-recognized Native American tribes across North Carolina.

Oxendine has been recognized with a Distinguished Alumna Award for her outstanding contributions to humanity. In January 2018, Oxendine was also honored with Bridge Builders scholarship in her name to recognize her contributions to forging a more inclusive, unified and aspirational Carolina community.