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UNC to celebrate American Indians

November marks Heritage Month

Upon her arrival at UNC, sophomore Leslie Locklear was met with a challenge.

Locklear was not only faced with the usual adjusting-to-college issues — but also with trying to convince people of her American Indian heritage.

“Many people on this campus have approached me and stated, ‘I didn’t know Native Americans still existed.’ I find this absolutely amazing,” said Locklear.

As cultural chairwoman of the Carolina Indian Circle, Locklear has planned both Cherokee language and Native American dance classes to increase awareness that American Indians continue to live — and thrive — in the U.S.

More than 20 events will be held throughout November as UNC celebrates American Indian Heritage Month.

The events range from film screenings and dance lessons to planetarium shows and crash courses on the Cherokee language.

The commemorative month kicked off Monday when Gov. Bev Perdue officially proclaimed the start of heritage celebrations in North Carolina.

American Indians have celebrated National American Indian Heritage Month in November since an Aug. 3, 1990 proclamation by former President George H.W. Bush.

Clara Kidwell, director of the UNC American Indian Center, said she is looking forward to the festivities.

“The goal of the heritage month is to recognize contemporary American Indian culture and to note the existence of current tribes,” she said.

This year is the third in which the University has joined forces with the 3-year-old American Indian Center for the heritage month.

However, individual departments have been recognizing the month since before then.

Brandi Brooks, the program coordinator of the University’s American Indian Center, said this year’s festivities are a collaborative effort between several academic departments, the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, and student clubs.

Off-campus sponsors such as the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh and the Duke Native American Student Alliance have also contributed, said the Lumbee tribe member.

All events on campus are free except for those at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, where the standard rates of $7.50 for adults and $6 for children apply.

There will be dance lessons tonight at 5:30 p.m. in room 3206A of the Student Union.

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