PNC Bank has invested $10,000 to support a key piece of UNC Pembroke’s growing Southeast American Indian Studies (SAIS) program.
The PNC Native American Speakers Series will bring nationally recognized scholars, artists and other talent to campus during the 2015-16 school year; PNC’s contribution allows UNCP to upgrade the schedule of speakers and market the events to the community more effectively.
The series is managed by the university’s Department of American Indian Studies (AIS), which, along with the Museum of the Southeast American Indian (formerly the Native American Resource Center), are key components of the SAIS program. The speakers and events are free and open to the public.
Capitalizing on the university designation as North Carolina’s historically American Indian university and its position as the leading institution of higher education for American Indians in the eastern U.S., SAIS is committed to becoming the premier teaching and research center for the study of Southeastern Native peoples.
“The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has much to offer to our region in better understanding and celebrating Native American history and culture,” said Jim Hansen, PNC regional president, Eastern Carolinas. “PNC’s support allows this meaningful program to reach more students and members of the greater community.”
Wendy Lowery, UNCP’s vice chancellor of Advancement, said support of the speaker series is important to SAIS, which was launched in 2012 during the celebration of the university’s 125th anniversary.
“Pembroke is home to the largest tribe in the eastern United States, and the university is the right place for a program like Southeast American Indians Studies,” Lowery said. “This program holds incredible potential for the university as a national center for scholarship. PNC’s generous gift will help us unlock that potential.”
SAIS Director Dr. Alfred Bryant said good things are in store for the PNC Native American Speakers Series. “PNC’s gift puts us in a position to build on the program with by bringing even more diverse scholars and artists to campus,” he said. “We got a taste of what is to come when, this spring, as part of the speakers series, we brought to the Givens Performing Arts Center the Native comedy troupe, the 1491s. It was a thoughtful, exciting, entertaining, contemporary and very well attended program that used comedy to address issues facing Indian country.”
Recent guests of the speaker series include Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe), Kahente Horn-Miller (Kahnawà:ke), Philip H. Red Eagle (Salish and Dakota) and Pembroke historian Dr. Malinda Maynor Lowery (Lumbee). Pembroke has always been a draw for national American Indian talent, such as singer Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree), writer Sherman Alexie (Spokane/Coeur d’Alene) and Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian.
“We’d like to thank PNC for their support of the speakers series,” Dr. Bryant said. “It is important for our students to be exposed to the outstanding national scholars and artists that Indian country has to offer. We are excited about next year and hope to announce the upcoming line-up very soon.”
Dr. Mary Ann Jacobs, chair of the American Indian Studies Department, thanked PNC for its contribution and sees good things for the PNC Native American Speakers Series.
“Prior to the creation of SAIS, the American Indian Studies Department and the museum co-hosted the series, but we can now anticipate a series with a bigger impact thanks to PNC Bank. Thanks to PNC and the efforts of Wendy Lowery in Advancement, Dr. Bryant and Lawrence Locklear from SAIS, we are looking forward to offering a more comprehensive program that will include many more Native American speakers and topics of interest to the campus and community.”
SAIS is gaining momentum thanks to the generosity of donors like PNC and grant funding. Recent grants provided an assessment of the Museum of the Southeast American Indian in Old Main and a two-week residential summer program on campus for 20 American Indian students from North Carolina.
Annually, SAIS and AIS host Honoring Native Foodways, a celebration of local and traditional Native foods, and the Southeast Indian Studies Conference, a gathering of scholars of Native America. The PNC Native American Speakers Series is another key program going forward.
Fundraising for SAIS is ongoing in the Office of Advancement and will remain a priority as we continue to build the program. To learn more about SAIS, please visit www.uncp.edu/sais. To give to SAIS, visit www.uncp.edu/give. For more information about the PNC Native American Speakers Series or SAIS, please contact Lawrence T. Locklear at (910) 775-4579 or email email@example.com.