Updates and Resources for Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Native American Heritage Month

In line with our commitment to become an anti-racist college, this newsletter provides resources for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion and creating a healthy teaching and learning community for all. This month we are highlighting Native American Heritage Month, a celebration and recognition of the accomplishments of the native people who were the original inhabitants, explorers and settlers of the United States. To honor the rich and vibrant cultures of Native Americans, we must reckon with and recognize the many sacrifices, contributions and achievements, as well as acknowledge the land of Native American tribes upon which we live and learn.

5 Things to Know About National Native American Heritage Month

  1. It was an effort at the turn of the century to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S. It resulted in a whole month being designated for the purpose. 
  2. Dr. Arthur C. Parker, a Seneca Indian and director of the Museum of Arts and Science in Rochester, New York, was one of the proponents of an American Indian Day. He persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to set aside a day for the “First Americans” and they adopted such a day for three years. The annual Congress of the American Indian Association meeting held in Lawrence, Kansas, formally approved a plan concerning American Indian Day in 1915.  The plan directed Rev. Sherman Coolidge, an Arapahoe and president of the association, to call for the country to observe such a day. On Sept. 28, 1915, Coolidge issued a proclamation declaring the second Saturday of May as American Indian Day and contained the first formal appeal for recognition of Indians as citizens.
  3. A year before this proclamation was issued, Red Fox James, a Blackfoot Indian, rode horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Indians. He presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House on Dec. 14, 1915. However, there is no record of such a national day being proclaimed. 
  4. The first American Indian Day in a state was declared on the second Saturday in May 1916 by the governor of New York. Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. Currently, several states have designated Columbus Day as Native American Day, but it continues to be a day we observe without any recognition as a national legal holiday.
  5. President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution in 1990, designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month. Similar proclamations have been issued, under variants on the name, each year since 1994, including Native American Heritage Month and National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month.

Source: nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov, a collaborative project between the Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.


The college’s task force for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion appreciates the numerous students who participated in the newsletter’s naming contest. Undergraduate student representative Toria Bennett and graduate student representative Luke Carman reviewed the top four nominations and unanimously selected Pack IDEAs (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) submitted by doctoral student Chrystal Coble. The task force members wish to express gratitude for the engagement from the student body and leadership of student representatives.


In each newsletter, we highlight faculty, students and alumni who have expertise and experiences that align with advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within the college. In becoming an anti-racist college community, we must deepen our commitment to creating and sustaining a healthy teaching and learning community that uplifts the humanity of all people, but especially Black, Indigenous and people of color who due to structural inequities are marginalized in education and society. The spotlight feature of this newsletter offers a counternarrative that celebrates and showcases the brilliance of individuals within our college community.

Gavin Bell

Gavin Bell ‘21MED
Higher Education Administration Program 
Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development

Education has provided Gavin Bell ‘21MED with many opportunities to interact and intentionally support student populations, especially those who look like him — one thing he loves about the education field. 

Bell, who is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, says education is an effective avenue for bolstering confidence and growth in students, particularly those from underrepresented communities. 

As a second-year graduate student in the master of education in higher education administration program, diversity, equity and inclusion in education is very important to him because he’s so passionate about the field, but he also recognizes that this is one of the arenas that has seen significant disparities in access and support for students. 

“In order for this field to be all it can be, there has to be intentional action steps taken beyond just a simple ‘representation quota,’” he said.  

Bell appreciates the support and the opportunities the NC State College of Education has provided him and other students so far. 


Victoria Chavis

Victoria Chavis ‘23PHD
Higher Education Program
Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development

As a college adviser with the Carolina College Advising Corps, Victoria Chavis ‘23PHD discovered that she really enjoyed working with students. That newfound discovery led her to the NC State College of Education, where she is a second-year doctoral student in the higher education program with plans of also earning an advanced degree in social work one day. 

“I want to one day produce research and policy changes that will generate equity and inclusion in public education across North Carolina,” she said. 

Diversity, equity and inclusion in education are important to Chavis. As a citizen of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, she is passionate about diversity and equity work because of her experiences as an undergraduate student attending a predominantly white institution (PWI). 

“It was hard enough to focus on academia in itself, but there was a constant struggle of justifying my presence on campus and educating others about historical and present Native issues. The quote ‘be the change you want to see in the world’ has really motivated me to continue to pursue higher education in order to generate change for all minoritized students in higher education,” Chavis said.

As a doctoral student at NC State, she says she wants to share in the heavy lifting of producing equity and inclusion at higher education institutions. 

“Native people are not just a historical people, but a present people,” a quote Chavis shared from Zianne Richardson, a citizen of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe.


Jamison Lowery

Jamison Lowery ‘22MED
Higher Education Administration Program
Educational Leadership, Policy, and Human Development

Jamison Lowery ‘22MED thought he wanted to be in the medical field, but soon realized what he really wanted to do was work in a field where he could help people in a different way. After exploring several options during his undergraduate studies, he discovered that through the education field he would have the opportunity to help people in multiple ways.

Having had many mentors in the education field, Lowery was inspired to assist students like they did. Now, he is in his first semester as a master’s degree student in the higher education administration program within the NC State College of Education.

As a graduate student in the college, Lowery says diversity, equity and inclusion in education is important because many students in educational settings search and look for individuals who have similar backgrounds and experiences as them, and who are able to best guide them through the challenges and difficulties that come with higher education.

“Having those folks you can look up to inspires you to be able to persist and keep on doing what you aspire to do. This is especially true when you don’t share the same advantages as those around you,” he said. “Not everyone comes from the same place or has had those same educational experiences. As an administrator, you can think about what needs students have and how to best meet them.”

It’s also important, Lowery says, to understand the role that history plays as well. And as a proud member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, his advice to the college is: “I would ask that the College of Education continue its work concerning social justice and to further the indigenous themes of reciprocity and collectivism in order to better our community as a whole.”


For other students, educators and leaders who are interested in learning more about advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion and anti-racist education, here are a few resources recommended by our featured Native American graduate students:

  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • I am my Grandmother’s Granddaughter: Indigenous Resilience in the Academy,” a TEDx from Brittany Danielle Hunt of the Lumbee Indian Tribe
  • Decentering Whiteness: Teaching Antiracism on a Predominantly White Campus by Michael D. Smith and Eve Tuck
  • Disrupting Postsecondary Prose: Toward a Critical Race Theory of Higher Education by Lori D. Patton


The NC State College of Education is celebrating American Education Week, Nov. 16 – 20, 2020. We kicked off the weeklong celebration on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, with a webinar on Race in Education facilitated by Assistant Professor Amato Nocera, Ph.D., who joined the Department of Teacher Education and Learning Science faculty this fall. Nocera walked participants through the historical legacy of racism in education using an African American history lens. His presentation provided important context for understanding current issues related to anti-blackness in education and society. Nocera then engaged a doctoral student panel (Lindsay Hubbard, Nada Wafa, Elizabeth Uzzell and Iwinosa Idahor) in a powerful discussion concerning implications for teacher education and culturally relevant pedagogy. The student panelists shared their experiences in education and as former classroom teachers. Over 100 people attended the webinar. 

To celebrate American Education Week, virtual backgrounds have been created for you to use during Zoom meetings. 


As we approach the end of the semester and the upcoming holiday season, the task force wanted to recommend an educational screening. The Social Dilemma is a documentary on the dangerous human impact of social networking. 


ULI Triangle: History of Segregation in the Triangle Part I | Nov. 19
Urban Land Institute (ULI) Triangle will host a virtual webinar, History of Segregation in the Triangle: Land Use Policies and Beyond. Kofi Boone, professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning in the NC State College of Design, and Melissa Norton, project director at Bull City 150, will examine the use of segregative and discriminatory land use policies in the Triangle. The impacts of these historical policies will help shine light on some of the inequitable land and housing practices today. For more information or to register, visit ULI Triangle at triangle.uli.org.

25th Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration | Nov. 20-21
Artists, performers, scholars, historians and other representatives from North Carolina’s eight state-recognized American Indian tribes and four Urban Indian Organizations will share their skills, knowledge and cultural heritage over two days. This virtual event is free to the public. For more information or to register, visit the North Carolina Museum of History at nc-aihc.com.


As we continue our work toward advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the college, the task force would love to hear from you. Please submit your ideas, suggestions and feedback for what you’d like to see and experience for your growth and development, as well as what the college should focus on to improve the culture and climate.

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