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The North Carolina Teachers Institute is a professional education development program of the North Carolina Humanities Council. Through the Teachers Institute, teachers from across the state come together to study the history, literature, music, and art of North Carolina’s diverse communities and people.

The Teachers Institute provides access to continued intellectual growth for K-12 public school teachers. Connecting classroom teachers and university scholars, the Teachers Institute creates the rigorous, stimulating environment found in the best graduate education. Offered free to teachers, weekend seminars throughout the year and a week-long summer seminar are content-rich, intellectually stimulating, and interdisciplinary.

In 2004, the Humanities Council’s Teachers Institute was invited, along with other humanities councils doing professional development work with teachers, to participate with the Minnesota Humanities Commission’s teacher program in conducting seminars that highlighted the history and cultures of the American Indian tribes in their respective states. Between 2005 and 2007, the North Carolina Teachers Institute offered a series of four seminars for teachers which focused on the state’s two largest tribes: the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and the Lumbee Indians.

  • April 8-10, 2005: The Language, the Land, and the Life: Cherokees in North Carolina (Cherokee)
  • October 14-16, 2005: Life, Land, and the Lumbee Experience (Pembroke)
  • November 3-5, 2006: The Language, the Land, and the Life: Cherokees in North Carolina(Cherokee)
  • September 14-16, 2007: Life, Land, and the Lumbee Experience (Pembroke)

In 2008, the Teachers Institute presented a culminating seminar focusing more generally on American Indian studies and other state-recognized tribes in North Carolina.

  • March 7-8, 2008: North Carolina American Indians: “Keeping the Circle” (Greensboro)

Out of the initial four seminars and through the vision of the Minnesota Humanities Commission, the Humanities Council developed a Curriculum Enrichment Project. A draft of the project was shared with and critiqued by participating teachers at the March 2008 seminar. After revisions, another draft was reviewed for historic and cultural accuracy by members of the Lumbee tribe and of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. What follows is the completed project.

Portions of this project will be shared with teachers in North Carolina through the LEARN NC website and with teachers across the country through a dedicated website established by the Minnesota Humanities Commission. All participants in the five Humanities Council seminars will receive a full curriculum enrichment packet. The Humanities Council will make the packet available to others on a by-request basis.

2011 update

In 2010, through a second grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, the American Indian Center began the coordination of revising the curriculum guide to include information on the additional six state-recognized tribes — the Coharie, Haliwa-Saponi, Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation, Meherrin, Sappony, and the Waccamaw-Siouan. Members of our Project Advisory Committee, many educators themselves, were given permission by their tribes to serve in this capacity to take on the task of compiling tribally-sanctioned information to include in the curriculum guide about their tribal histories, current tribal affairs, and lesson plans related to their tribes.

The American Indian Center firmly believes that tribal histories and current affairs are best told by the tribes themselves, honoring tribal sovereignty and self-determination. This project was a focused collaboration between those voices and the University of North Carolina, to present quality, culturally-appropriate materials for teaching about American Indians in North Carolina. Differences in the tribes’ presentation styles can be seen throughout the guide. However, an effort was made to collect consistent, basic information about each tribe for statistical and geographical purposes to help teachers in their understanding. Due to these factors, the way in which materials on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Lumbee are presented may appear different than the six additional tribes included in the second phase of curriculum development.

Additional advisers to this project were Dr. Kathryn Walbert, curriculum development specialist; Dr. Christopher Arris Oakley, Associate Professor of History at East Carolina University; Mr. Jefferson Currie (Lumbee) of the North Carolina Museum of History; Dr. Theresa Shebalin, archeological and educational workshop specialist; and two graduate students in the UNC School of Education, Trey Adcock (Cherokee Nation; Sequoyah Fellow, Ph.D. candidate) and Holli Jacobs (Coharie).