App State unveils Lumbee Tribe flag


Ashton Woodruff

Members of the Lumbee Tribe standing with members of App State faculty, underneath the Lumbee Tribe flag.

Kaitlyn Potochnik, Reporter

A Lumbee Tribe flag was unveiled in the International Hallway, right next to where the flag of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation hangs Monday.

The App State chapter of the Student American Indian Movement and the Office of Diversity collaborated to host a ceremony to celebrate this new flag placed to honor the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina.

With nearly 60,000 recognized members, the Lumbee Tribe is one of the largest American Indian groups in the Eastern United States, Chancellor Sheri Everts said at the ceremony.

During the ceremony, Seth Grooms, assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology, spoke about the importance of this flag at App State as a recognized member of the Lumbee.

“This flag symbolizes pride in our heritage. It symbolizes self-determination and perseverance. This flag reminds me of our fight for political sovereignty,” Grooms said. “But it isn’t just a symbol of a static past. It also symbolizes the fight that a new generation of Lumbee is taking on for environmental justice on the Lumbee River. This flag also means that App State sees us.”

Speeches during the ceremony were given by Chief Diversity Officer Jamie Parson, Chancellor Everts, Grooms, professor Allen Bryant and president of the Student American Indian Movement, Cierra Bell.

The ceremony started at 11:30 a.m. and lasted for about half an hour. It took place in Summit Trail Solarium in Plemmons Student Union where Parson began by reading off App State’s Land Acknowledgement, which had been published in the spring of 2022. This statement served as a way to acknowledge the land the university was built on and as a way to pay proper respect to the Indigenous people the land had originally belonged to.

Around 50 people were in attendance, with notable guests such as Tribal Administrator Ricky Harris and Gregory Richardson, executive director of the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs.

Those in attendance at the ceremony then gathered to watch the new flag unfurl in the International Hallway. The flag can be seen just outside the Looking Glass Gallery.

During her speech at the ceremony, Everts said the flags on display in the International Hall all represent the home countries and nations of students, faculty and staff at the university. They serve as a welcome to those students, faculty and staff and also inform the university community about the diversity of representation, Everts said.

“This flag is going to become an extraordinarily powerful symbol for our campus. But we also recognize that symbols that aren’t intimately and relentlessly tethered to action and to ideals cease to become symbols. And they’re suddenly meaningless gestures,” said Cherokee Native Bryant, associate professor of elementary education. 

Bryant said he hopes this ceremony will “be one more step towards becoming that campus that we know we can, we should and we must be for American Indian students, families and communities.”