Wake Forest to celebrate indigenous people

Historical marker

Representatives from the North Carolina Tribal Nations will be on hand as Wake Forest University unveils a plaque honoring the land on which the University now resides and the original campus.

The event will be held on Monday, Nov. 4, at 5 p.m. in the Green Room in Reynolda Hall. It is open to the public and media are invited.

The ceremony will begin with a hand drum and honoring song by Ray Silva of the Pueblo/Navajo Nation, followed by a healing song by Brenda Silva of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe.

The ceremony is expected to last an hour and is being held in conjunction with Native American Heritage Month. First-year student Mahlea Hunt and 2019 alumna Savannah Baber will give remarks. Both are members of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.

Matthew Tooni of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will perform a flutist solo and share the Cherokee Earth Creation Story, and the acknowledgment of tribes will be given by Roo George-Warren of the Catawba Indian Nation. The welcome will be given by José Villalba, vice president of diversity and inclusion. Religion professor Ulrike Wiethaus will provide an Indigenous Land Acknowledgment.

Jonathan A. McElderry, assistant dean of students and executive director of the Intercultural Center, said the ceremony and plaque are symbolic of Wake Forest’s commitment to having a more inclusive campus. The plaque will be placed in the Tribble Courtyard outside of the ZSR Library.

“It is important for us to recognize and show appreciation to the indigenous peoples who are the original inhabitants of the land on which Wake Forest University resides as well as the land on which the original campus resided.” Jonathan A. McElderry, assistant dean of students and executive director of the Intercultural Center

“We look forward to welcoming faculty, staff, students and representatives from the North Carolina Tribal Nations for this meaningful event,” McElderry said.

The event is sponsored by the Intercultural Center, Native American Student Association, Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Division of Campus Life, Dean of Students Office, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, Department for the Study of Religions, American Ethnic Studies Program and the Department of Anthropology.

Jonathan McElderry and Savannah Baber will be available for interviews after the event.

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