PCI gives $500K to USA

Published 7:31 pm Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The University of South Alabama and the Poarch Band of Creek Indians recently announced the creation of a Native American studies program that will focus on the history, culture and modern life of the Poarch Band and other tribes.

The PCI Native American Studies program will be funded, in part, by a $500,000 gift from PCI.

“We are thrilled to make this opportunity available to USA students so they will be able to further their education in Native American studies,” said PCI Tribal Chairman Buford Rolin, in a USA press release. “The tribal council realizes how important quality education is, and for students to have the opportunity to learn about our history and culture at the University of South Alabama will only enhance the current studies being offered by the university.”

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According to USA, the program’s formation will allow the university to offer two or more courses in Native American studies each year, host an annual speaker in Native American studies, and support research by providing travel scholarships and research assistantships.

The $500,000 in philanthropic support will also allow USA to renew the Native American Student Organization, and better use its current resources at the Archaeology Museum and the Marx Library in order to promote awareness of Native American issues.

Four-fifths of the PCI donation will fund an endowed professorship, which will support scholarly and community outreach activities in perpetuity. USA has committed $75,000 annually to help fund the program in the future, according to university officials.

“One goal of higher education is to broaden students’ horizons and provide them with a new perspective,” said Dr. Phillip J. Carr, professor of anthropology at USA. “The Poarch Band of Creek Indians is a nation within a nation, having its own language, customs and unique history.

“This partnership between the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and the University of South Alabama will have important and wide-ranging impacts as it enriches the educational experience, by providing a fuller understanding of native peoples across the country, and special opportunities to work with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.”

The announcement of the partnership between USA and PCI was made Friday, during a meeting of the USA’s Board of Trustees.
No Alabama-based university currently offers a full four-year major or minor degree in Native American studies, but school officials said they hope Friday’s announcement will allow USA to offer such a degree in the future.

Robbie McGhee, PCI’s government relations adviser and a 1993 USA graduate, said Friday’s announcement would have a special meeting to his grandfather, the late Chief Calvin McGhee.

“He would be so happy to know that students here will have the opportunity to learn that our history is also part of their state’s history, and important to everyone who calls Alabama home,” McGhee said. “I know he would view today as a landmark event and a great honor.”