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American Indian Studies

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke was established in 1887 as an institution for Native Americans. Since 1953, it has had a multi-racial student body. Because of its heritage, the University, through this Department, offers a program to educate students about the rich diversity of American Indian histories and cultures, to promote research and scholarship concerning American Indian issues, and to prepare students for professional or scholarly careers.

The Department offers a Bachelor of Arts, a minor, and an academic concentration in American Indian Studies. Students are encouraged to select courses that touch on as many different aspects of American Indian histories and cultures as possible.

Indigenous Cultures and Communities Graduation Requirement

Mission Statement
UNCP, as North Carolina’s only historically American Indian University and North Carolina’s only four-year university designated by the U.S. Department of Education as an American Indian and Alaska Native-Serving Institution, expects its graduates to learn about the cultures and histories of Indigenous peoples to honor and deepen their connection both to the university and to the American Indian communities who founded UNCP. The Indigenous Cultures and Communities (ICC) Graduation Requirement allows graduates to: (1)  develop an understanding and awareness of the social, political, economic, and sovereignty issues Indigenous peoples and communities faced in the past and/or are now facing; (2) experience and analyze the communities and cultures, including but not limited to languages, literature, arts, music, and spiritualities of Indigenous peoples; (3) enhance their ability to apply knowledge and agency to assist and support Indigenous communities in meeting their goals.

AIS Land Acknowledgement

The American Indian Studies Department at UNCP respectfully acknowledges that the lands within and surrounding present-day Robeson County are the historic homelands and gathering places of many Indigenous peoples, especially the Cape Fear, Cheraw, Coree, Gingaskin, Nansemond, Nanticote, Neusiok, Pamunkey, Pee Dee, Saponi, Tuscarora, Tutelo, Waccamaw, Wateree, Wenanoke, and the Winyaw. Along with their Indigenous relatives, they were the land’s original custodians. Robeson and surrounding counties are today the homeplace of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and many other tribal peoples, including members (or citizens) of the eight state recognized tribes of North Carolina: the Eastern Band of Cherokee, Coharie, Haliwa Saponi, Meherrin, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi, Sappony, and Waccamaw Siouan.

This land acknowledgement does not erase the history of colonial and contemporary violence against the Indigenous peoples of these lands. We further acknowledge that the United States of America continues to benefit from that violence; thus, we all share an ongoing responsibility - as demonstrated by our historical mission of service to the Lumbee and other Indigenous peoples - to safeguard these lands and the sovereignty of the Lumbee and the descendants of the original inhabitants who continue to reside here.

Acknowledging all this, AIS pays respect to all Indigenous elders - past, present, and emerging - who resided and still live in the area, and who have been and remain an integral part of the history and culture of this region.

AIS Land Acknowledgement

(Short Version)

The American Indian Studies Department at UNCP respectfully acknowledges that the lands within and surrounding present-day Robeson County are the traditional homelands and gathering places of many Indigenous peoples. We share an ongoing responsibility to safeguard these lands, and the sovereignty of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and the descendants of the original inhabitants who continue to reside here. AIS pays respect to all Indigenous elders - past, present, and emerging - who have been and remain an integral part of the history and culture of this region.

Statement of Support

The members of the American Indian Studies Department (AIS) & Native American Student Organization (NASO) at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke support our students, faculty, staff, administrators, and community members who supported Black Lives Matter and protested police brutality on Friday, June 26th in the city of Pembroke. We are disappointed and disheartened by the gathered opposition that heaped abuses on these peaceful protestors whose goal was to advocate for civil rights and social justice. There is a long history in the United States of using racism to support colonialism. Native and African Americans in this community have together suffered the oppressions of enslavement, the Jim Crow codes, police brutality and ongoing mass incarceration. Unfortunately, some American Indians internalize that racism, which was on display at the protest. As an academic department of anti-racist educators and an inclusive student organization open to all students, AIS and NASO denounce in the strongest of terms the use of racist words and all forms of violence, including violent threats. AIS and NASO advocate collaboration between communities of color and their Euroamerican allies to dismantle systemic racism in our institutions. We are proud to be members of one of the most diverse universities in the south, we thrive on the presence of students from all cultures and communities, and we cherish the dialogue fostered by this diversity in our classrooms and programs.