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Our vision at the American Indian Center is to make the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill a leading public university for American Indian scholarship and scholars. We aim to make Native issues a permanent part of the intellectual life of the University.

The American Indian Center operates on values traditionally found in Indigenous communities. We lead with our values and we hope that this is how you get to know the American Indian Center.

Respect.  We treat others the way we want to be treated.

Responsibility.  We believe we have a responsibility to Native peoples.

Reciprocity.  We are dedicated to the mutual sharing of resources.

Balance.  We balance academic knowledge with indigenous knowledge.

The AIC is a university-wide public service Center designed to advance the University’s mission of research, education, and service with three primary goals.

Leadership in American Indian Scholarship and Research.  By creating an environment in which quality research and scholarship related to American Indians is strengthened and nurtured, the University can become the premier university in the east for American Indian research and knowledge dissemination.

Engagement with and Service to Native Populations.  By serving as the University’s front door to American Indian communities, the AIC will enable Carolina, as the University of the People, to truly serve the First People of North Carolina as well as the First people of the south and the east.

Enrichment of Campus Diversity and Dialogue.  By facilitating the inclusion of the American Indian peoples, with their unique and rich cultures, traditions, beliefs, and histories, the learning environment of the entire Carolina community will be enriched.
In the early 2000s Provost Dick Richardson observed that UNC Chapel Hill, the flagship public University in the state with the largest Indian population east of the Mississippi, had no organized program focused on American Indians or American Indian studies.

To address this issue, Provost Richardson’s successor, interim Provost Dick Edwards, created the Provost’s Committee on Native American Issues (PCNAI).  The PCNAI was charged with two goals: (1) to coordinate and support efforts across campus to build programs of teaching, research, and service relevant to American Indians; and (2) to advise the Provost on initiatives to increase the Native American presence on campus, with a focus on recruiting and retaining Indian students, faculty, and staff.

Overtime, the PNACI’s activities have contributed, either directly or indirectly, to a number of important achievements:

  • creating a permanent staff position in Native American Studies;
  • encouraging the Office of Minority Affairs and the Graduate School to improve their programs for recruiting Indian students;
  • establishing the Sequoyah Fellowship in the Graduate School; and
  • creating the American Indian Center.

The American Indian Center (AIC) was established in 2006 by Provost Robert Shelton. Since being created, the AIC has connected University faculty, students and staff to Native Nations and communities both in North Carolina and abroad.  Whether for research, class projects or student support, the AIC has proved to be a vital part of the UNC campus community.

While the PCNAI no longer exists, its efforts are carried on by the American Indian Center, the American Indian & Indigenous Studies Department, the American Indian Caucus and both the Internal and External Advisory Board members of the AIC.