In the early 2000s Provost Dick Richardson observed that UNC Chapel Hill, the flagship public university in a 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, American Indian & Indigenous Studies, the American Indian Caucus and both the Internal and External Advisory Board members of the AIC.