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Carolina Indian Circle prepares for annual Culture Showcase

Performers highlight Native American culture at Carolina Indian Circle’s previous Culture Showcase. The Carolina Indian Circle will host their Culture Showcase on Monday, Nov. 13, 2023 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Great Hall. Photo courtesy of Carolina Indian Circle.

On Nov. 13, UNC community members will have the opportunity to experience singing, dancing and the speaking of Native languages. The showcase, which will be in the Student Union's Great Hall, is hosted by the Carolina Indian Circle.

The student organization was founded in 1974 to create community and support for undergraduate Native American students on campus. Dalton Locklear, the current president of CIC, said the organization aims to provide a secure community for Native UNC students and give them somewhere to call home while on campus. 

“[We are] ensuring that campus knows about Native American issues in regards to politics, making sure that everyone continues to progress academically, and [is] a source of support for each other — to be a community that we can go to when we are ripped away from our tribal communities to pursue Western education,” Locklear said.

Fifth-year doctoral candidate in American studies, Frankie Bauer, is a California native and member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He said he found a community in North Carolina through CIC. Bauer said CIC’s annual Culture Showcase event is a safe space for Indigenous students and for others to learn more about their identity. 

“[It is] an introduction to people who have a very broad conception of what indigeneity, within specifically North Carolina, looks like,” Bauer said.

The CIC will curate the event in collaboration with the American Indian Center, a University-funded organization composed of Native leaders that hopes to “make Native issues a permanent part of the intellectual life of the University,” according to its website. 

AJ Hunt, the current administrative support associate at the center and former CIC president, said being part of CIC was one of his favorite memories of their time at UNC.

The CIC was one of the main reasons he chose to come to UNC, Hunt said, adding that his mother was also in CIC when she attended the University.  

“It is a space where you can be Native with other Native people at UNC,” he said.

They also said the CIC is the only place where many Native students do not have to explain their identities all the time.

Hunt graduated from UNC with a Bachelor of Arts in American Indian and Indigenous studies and psychology — a path other Indigenous students at UNC, like Bauer, are also following. 

“American Indian and Indigenous studies is a bright spot at this campus. We offer the classes and that’s special,” Bauer said. “That is one of the things that makes me happy to be at Carolina.”

While the American Indian and Indigenous studies concentration remains a part of the American Studies curriculum today, about two years ago the program was under threat of being terminated by the University due to lack of funding and enrollment numbers.

Hunt said the CIC and the First Nations Graduate Circle created a petition to keep the concentration, met with UNC’s provost and explained the importance of the American Indian and Indigenous Studies concentration, as many Indigenous students take classes or major in the subject.

“When I was president, it was also the year that the American Studies department tried to condense all of the concentrations or get rid of them,” Hunt said. “It’s the reason why a lot of Native students find space at UNC.”

Locklear said the Carolina Indian Circle ensures that Indigenous people are represented on campus. He added that the Culture Showcase continues to aim to be a source of support and opportunity to bring students together in the learning of something new. 

This year's showcase will be on Monday, Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m, according to CIC's Instagram.

“We’re here, we’re in classrooms, we’re working with University administration, we have two Natives in South Building who are working with the provost,” Locklear said. “We’re there, you just have to look for us.”


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