PEMBROKE — The networking efforts of the curator of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Museum of the Southeast American Indian is paying off.
Nancy Strickland Fields has been fostering relationships with the local community and across the country. Recent evidence of this was when Fields played host to Kelly Haney, former chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, during Lumbee Homecoming. Haney spent several days touring the campus, the museum and the local area.
A well-known professional artist, Haney has exhibited his work throughout the world and has received the title of Master Artist of the Five Civilized Tribes. He is best known as the creator of “The Guardian,” the 22-foot-tall bronze warrior sculpture atop the Oklahoma State Capitol dome.
Haney also has political clout. He is a former senator in Oklahoma and the first full-blood American Indian to serve in either house of the Oklahoma Legislature.
“An important goal for me is to connect our museum to Southeastern people and communities because we are celebrating Southeastern culture,” Fields said. “And it is Chief Haney’s leadership that enables us to have a real strong way of making that connection.
“Being able to network with someone as well-known as he is helps put us on the map,” she said. “This was a great opportunity to share our culture with him and strengthen our ties with people in other communities in the Southeast.”
During his visit, Haney toured the Art Department, as well as the Art Department Gallery. He spoke to a group of international students and high school students attending an American Indian youth camp.
Haney also attended an alumni event hosted at the Chancellor’s residence.
“It was an honor for us to host Chief Haney during Lumbee Homecoming,” said Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings. “He is a remarkable individual, given his extensive service to his tribe and his state, in addition to his talents as an artist.
“By exposing leaders like Chief Haney to our university, we are growing relationships with tribes across the nation and marketing the unique educational experience available at UNC Pembroke.”
Chief Haney said he was honored to ride in the Lumbee Homecoming parade with Lumbee Tribal Chairman Harvey Godwin Jr. He also attended the State of the Tribe Address, the annual AISES powwow and attended the tribe’s Veteran Resource Office open house.
“Having had the pleasure of hosting Chief Haney during our annual Lumbee Homecoming festivities, I came to understand him to be an honorable man and friend to the Lumbee people,” Godwin said. “His support is invaluable in our pursuit of federal recognition.”
Mark Locklear is a Public Relations specialist at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.