A surprise $20,000 donation to the Museum of the Southeast American Indian brought tears to the eyes of its director, Nancy Strickland Fields.
Fields was overwhelmed with emotion Friday after the cast of the play lumBEES: Women of the Dark Water presented the oversized check to the UNC Pembroke museum staff.
The funds will be used to further develop the Children’s Discovery Center which offers immersive learning experiences from an American Indian perspective. The funds will complete the Discovery Center that includes a front porch interactive that gathers and shares interviews, a hands-on learning space, and STEM driven traditional Southeastern Winter House.
“My mind is racing with all the possibilities of how we will be able to use this space in a dynamic way,” Fields said. “It’s important for us to share our stories as Native people. We are sharing our stories today and we will continue to dig deep and research, interview and uncover not only past stories, but present and future stories.”
The Children’s Discovery Center provides an educational space for guests to experience together as a family. Fields said the space will be designed to inspire, elevate and celebrate Native people.
She described the donation as being a ‘game changer.’
lumBEES: Women of the Dark Water was performed four nights in June at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre stage in Fayetteville. The music memoir tells the stories of six Lumbee women–Roberta Bullard Brown, Dolores Jones, Jinnie Lowery, Dr. Jo Ann Chavis Lowery, Della Maynor and Darlene Holmes Ransom.
The women shared stories of growing up as American Indians in southeastern North Carolina. The memoir starts in the early grades of Indian schools and transitions into North Carolina desegregation of public education in the 1970s.
Ransom, the play’s producer, said the cast decided to give a portion of the proceeds to the museum after a recent visit to campus.
“Our director, Bo Thorp, had never been to the museum. She fell in love with it and we fell in love with Nancy and her vision for the Discovery Center. We are so excited to be able to give back to the community,” Ransom said.
Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings said the generous gift will change the lives of UNCP students and countless museum visitors.
“The stories we share with one another have always been an important part of heritage,” Cummings said. It’s the very foundation of any community. It’s important that we tell the story of this university–its past, present and its future. We are always grateful for donations, but your donation is very special because it came out your love for this university and its history.”
“The thought that there will be children who will come to see and enjoy this space because of something that we did, is really a win-win,” Director Bo Thorp added.