The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP), with its unique designation as “North Carolina’s Historically American Indian University” and existing American Indian programs, makes an ideal setting for SAIS. Founded in 2012 during UNCP’s 125th anniversary celebration, the Southeast American Indian Studies program will position UNCP to continue its historical mission of service to Lumbee and other American Indian communities.

UNCP, established in 1887 to train Lumbee Indian teachers, today confers more undergraduate degrees to Indians than any institution east of the Mississippi River and is in the top 10 nationally. Between 1887 and 1952, the institution’s student body was all-Indian. During that time, between 1939 and 1953, the institution was the only state-supported four-year college for American Indians in the United States. Today, approximately 16 percent of the student body is American Indian, representing Native communities throughout North Carolina and the region. UNCP’s goal is that SAIS will become a stand-alone school alongside the institution’s other schools of Business, Education and Graduate Studies and Research.

SAIS is headquartered in historic Old Main, the oldest campus structure and the only UNCP building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1923, Old Main has come to symbolize the American Indian heritage of the institution. The structure was once described as the “intellectual mother” of the Lumbee people. Chancellor Kyle R. Carter announced the establishment of SAIS from the steps of Old Main on March 15, 2012.