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Every spring, the American Indian Center brings to campus a well-respected nationally prominent American Indian elder to foster cultural, academic, social, and spiritual support for Carolina students as well as to enrich the campus community.  Selected elders have come from all parts of the country and are chosen for their deep cultural knowledge and their leadership in Native causes.

During their time on campus, the Elder In Residence (EIR) will spend much of his/her time meeting with students, speaking in classrooms, and meeting with other campus faculty and staff.

The EIR Program is designed to:

  • Celebrate Indigenous knowledge,
  • Validate Indigenous practices and ways of knowing,
  • Reinforce American Indian identity and affirm American Indian students,
  • Raise the awareness of Native culture with University staff and faculty, and
  • Foster relationships between American Indian communities and the University.

2024 Elder in Residence, W. Richard “Rick” West

Rick is the founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and President and CEO Emeritus, Ambassador, Native Communities, of the Autry Museum of the American West. He is a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and a member of the Society of Southern Cheyenne Peace Chiefs. Please read more about Rick’s accomplishments here.

2023 Elder in Residence, Mrs.Betty Oxendine

October 5, 2023

Betty Oxendine Mangum is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. She was born in Robeson County. She spent many years in the classroom as a teacher and then worked in educational administration, including as Director of Indian Education at the NC Department of Public Instruction. Ms. Mangum has a B.A. in elementary education from UNC Pembroke and a M.A. in educational administration and supervision from NC Central University. She has contributed and consulted on many projects and initiatives, including curriculum, children’s books, television programming and art exhibits, to ensure accuracy and authenticity of American Indian representation.

2019 Elder in Residence, Mr. Greg Jacobs

April 15-19, 2019

We are so honored to have Mr. Greg Jacobs, Tribal Administrator from the Coharie Tribe serve as our 2019 Elder in Residence from April 15th – 19th. In conjunction with his visit, we will be hosting our AIC Open House. Please join us from 4:00pm-6:30pm on April 16th at our new location (205 Wilson Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516). Additionally, come and participate in a panel discussion with Mr. Greg Jacobs on Thursday, April 18th. The reception will be held at 4:00pm and the Q&A starting around 4:45-6:00pm. For questions: (919) 843-4189,


Past Elders in Residence:

April 3-6, 2018

Dr. Robert A. Williams, Jr. (Lumbee)


April 17-21, 2017

Chief Joyce Dugan (Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians)


April 10-15, 2016

Dr. Henrietta Mann (Cheyenne-Arapaho)


March 2-5, 2015

Jeri Redcorn (Caddo)

Charles Redcorn (Osage)


February 12-15, 2014

Simon J. Ortiz (Acoma Pueblo)


March 2013

Senora Lynch (Haliwa Saponi)


March 12-17, 2012

Della C. Warrior (Otoe-Missouria)


March 14-19, 2011

Ada Deer (Menominee)


February 21-25, 2010

Dr. Robert J. Conley (Cherokee)


March 17 – 20, 2009

LaDonna Harris (Comanche)


March 24-28, 2008

Dr. Linda Oxendine (Lumbee)


Fall of 2006

LeAnne Howe (Choctaw)

*Howell served as an Elder, prior to the establishment of the Center.