Scott Bigelow | 910.521.6351 | email@example.com
University Communications and Marketing
Friday, March 2, 2012
A delegation of 20 Brazilian college students, all of them indigenous or First Nations people, visited UNC Pembroke on January 26 to learn about the Lumbee tribe and the university it founded.
In exchanges on campus, the delegates shared the challenges facing the First Nations people of Brazil, and they listened to the Lumbee discuss their history and culture.
The group, whose travel was funded by a U.S. State Department grant and sponsored by North Carolina Central University, were welcomed by students; Lumbee tribal officials; Greg Richardson, executive director of the North Carolina Commission on Indian Affairs, and Chancellor Kyle R. Carter.
“Welcome to a university that is celebrating the 125th year of its founding by American Indians,” Chancellor Carter said. “Our founders believed that education would lift up their community. One hundred and twenty-five years later, that experiment continues to pay dividends for the American Indian community here as well as the surrounding region.”
Richardson, who is a member of the Haliwa Saponi tribe, said the first teachers in his community were Lumbee trained at UNCP. “The Lumbee are the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River and one of the most progressive,” he said. “The university is the largest educator and employer of Lumbee, and the university has a long-standing buy-in from American Indians.”
Welcoming Party – From right: Chancellor Carter, Greg Richardson of the N.C. Commission on Indian Affairs, Doug Locklear representing the Lumbee tribe, Nicholas Richardson, president of UNCP’s Native American Student Association, and Dr. Stan Knick, curator and director of the Native American Resource Center
During the question and answer period, the Brazilians asked about Richardson’s bolo tie. “It is part of our traditional dress that I wore today to represent our Indian culture,” he answered. “Some are made by local artists, and they are all different.”
During the day-long visit, the Brazilian students heard from UNCP American Indian students and administrators. They toured the campus and the Native American Resource Center to learn more about American Indians in southeastern North Carolina, past and present.
Doug Locklear, representing the Lumbee, discussed the tribe. “I grew up on a farm picking cotton on my hands and knees,” he said. “My father attended the university and taught school for many years. We have all come a long way.”
“The students were fascinated by the regalia of the Lumbee dancers,” said Robert Canida, director of the Office of Multicultural and Minority Affairs at UNCP. “Any day that individuals and/or groups sit down together to share their cultures is a good day.”
The Brazilians’ first language is Portuguese, and they impressed Canida during their presentations. “To make such outstanding presentation in a second language is remarkable,” he said. “The picture they drew of issues facing the First People of Brazil was well received.”
Raphael Henrique Oliviera da Silvaand Anais Medeiros Passos gave PowerPoint presentations on Brazil, past and present.
“The ‘first contact’ with the Portuguese was not violent,” Rafael said. “They came as friends and tried to show our tribes the European way.”
Conflict grew over legal and political control and land use, both Rafael and Anais said. “Native rights are not always respected,” Rafael said. “The Belo Monte Dam project has become a symbol of that.”
The dam project will displace indigenous people and affect the environment, he said. The World Cup, which will be played in Brazil next summer, is another issue, Anais said.
“Thousands of people have been removed to make way for the games,” she said. “There has been protest.”
Gifts were exchanged, and the university hosted the Brazilian students for dinner in the Chancellor’s Dining Room. The delegation will visit Charleston, S.C., to investigate Gullah culture before moving on to Atlanta and Washington, D.C., where Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will host them at a reception.
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