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Thursday December 2nd

Carolina Indian Circle receives honors

<p>Carolina Indian Circle is a student organization that educates students  about Native American culture.</p>
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Carolina Indian Circle is a student organization that educates students about Native American culture.

The Carolina Indian Circle has been recognized with this year’s student organization award from the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.

Chelsea Barnes, president of the Carolina Indian Circle, said the organization works to foster a community and educate students about Native American culture.

“Even though the community is small, the CIC says that you’re supported here,” Barnes said. “It really speaks to the dedication of the community.”

Amy Locklear Hertel, director of the American Indian Center, said the Carolina Indian Circle members are leaders in promoting diversity on campus.

“They are first and foremost students, but they are activists in their own right,” Hertel said.

Aside from helping develop leadership skills, she said the center also provides educational resources, applying lessons learned in courses to tribal communities.

“They’re learning in a predominantly white institution, so we’re trying to show how they can apply what they learn to their own communities,” Hertel said.

The Carolina Indian Circle will be hosting its 28th annual powwow, a traditional Native American festival that will feature dancing and a cappella performances, on March 28 in Woollen Gym, said event co-chairwoman Kayla Smith.

“Anybody is welcome to come and learn more about powwow culture or the CIC,” Smith said. “We just need more awareness.”

Smith said the powwow is a time of coming together and celebrating all tribes.

This is the first year that there is an entrance fee for the event. Half of the proceeds will support the Faith Hedgepeth Memorial Scholarship Fund, which is dedicated to Faith Hedgepeth, a Native American student who was found dead in her apartment in 2012.

Aside from spreading awareness, she said one of the club’s main efforts is the recruitment and retention of Native American students. CIC members make calls to every Native American student admitted to UNC to congratulate them and introduce them to UNC’s Native American community.

Just two percent of students in the 2014 incoming class identified as Native American, according to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

According to the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment, the population of Native American undergraduates declined from 111 students in 2011 to 88 students in 2013.

“Our community is so small at Carolina that we really have to rely on each other,” Smith said.

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