- East Chapel Hill High School
Native American Heritage Month Celebration
November is National Native American Heritage Month, a time to affirm and honor the hundreds of tribes in the U.S. as well as share more accurate history and layered elements of culture and community. On Friday November 3, the CHCCS Equity and Engagement Office hosted a celebration at the Carrboro Town Hall Commons, and the hope is it will become an annual event in future Novembers.
The celebration included a number of tribal dances with accompanying drummers. Informational tables were set up to share flyers, brochures and buttons. Food trucks and vendors sold Native American food and several tables offered craft activities for children.
Coordinator of Instructional Equity and Leadership, Trilce Marquez, noted the extensive support and guidance their Equity and Engagement team received from Ryan Dial, a young member of the Lumbee Tribe who works at the American Indian Center at UNC. Marquez pointed to his broad and invaluable contributions. “Ryan Dial was our MC and organizer,” she said. “He created the agenda for the event, found all the vendors, and got in touch with all the dancers, singers and drummers. We are so grateful to him for leading this event!”
The celebration provided a rich opportunity for Native American staff and families in the district to continue forming connections, built in part at the August 23 Lincoln Center gathering, hosted by CHCCS Family and Community Engagement. The August Meet and Greet was organized to identify and introduce our Native American families and staff to each other, as well as provide information about laying the groundwork to create a CHCCS Indian Education Program. A district must identify at least 10 eligible students to form an official Indian Education Program and begin receiving federal funding. CHCCS is one of only a few NC school districts in the state that does not have an Indian Education Program.
Marquez said, “I want to deeply thank and acknowledge that this event happened because our American Indian families and staff have been incredibly gracious in pushing our district to do more to celebrate, affirm and elevate our Native CHCCS community. Parents like Amanda Frisard and Kristine Urrutia, and staff like Molly Brooks, and Stephanie and Shaunna Jeffries were instrumental in making sure this event happened!”
Carrboro High School ESL/French teacher Molly Brooks said, “This event meant a lot to me as a multi-language teacher and parent because it highlighted a unique group of our students and was personally significant as it celebrated my children's Lumbee heritage. I'm proud to work in a school district that values diverse cultures, both as an educator and as a parent.
Shaunna Jeffries, teacher at Frank Porter Graham Bilingue, said, “As a fourth grade teacher at FPGB, it is especially important that students learn and know about the history of North Carolina. Our state has the largest Native American population east of the Mississippi River. I proudly belong to and represent the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation which is one of the eight state recognized tribes. This event celebrated Native American heritage in a beautiful way!”
Seawell fourth grade teacher (and Shaunna’s sister), Stephanie Jeffries said, “I want to sincerely thank the Equity Department for the incredible opportunity. The authentic way in which ‘a real life, local PowWow’ was pulled together during the busiest time of year (for Natives) is truly commendable. I am grateful for the dedication and hard work of yesah/everyone involved, and I believe this annual experience will have a lasting impact on all who came out to be a part of it. Thank you for going above and beyond to create such a meaningful and transformative springboard experience. Looking forward to helping plan next year and to watching it grow, years to come!”