An American Indian college for All--UNC Pembroke

Kevin A. Thompson
December 8, 2022


(photo of UNC Pembroke graduation from

       The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has always aimed to teach Native Americans in the local community.   Founded in 1887 to train schoolteachers for  Lumbee Indian children in Robeson County, North Carolina, UNC-Pembroke now offers many career-oriented majors, and is open to Indian and non-Indian students alike.

Located in the town of Pembroke, which has an Indian majority; and in the county of Robeson, in which Lumbee people are the largest of its three main ethnic groups (Indian, White and Black in that order); UNC-Pembroke never forgets who it was founded for and aims to serve the country in which it sits. I say “country” because the college invites non-Indians from around the U.S. to attend the campus.

I’ve seen billboards for UNC-Pembroke on the New Jersey Turnpike, several hundred miles to the north, advertising itself as an affordable alternative to most other colleges and universities. In fact, it costs about the same as community colleges in many states, and offers four years of instruction instead of only two.

Native American students who attend UNC-Pembroke will have Indian events on-campus available to them, along with powwows in the surrounding community  and nearby counties.  There are officially 55,000 people enrolled in the Lumbee tribe, but thousands more Native Americans reside in nearby counties in North and South Carolina. (Robeson is on the state line.) The school also offers a major in Native American Studies.

The US Census reports that at least 366,000 Native Americans reside in North Carolina, offering the chance for even broader socialization with other Native people. 

If you are considering college or know someone who is, check out UNC-Pembroke’s videos for some insight into its Indian-affirming environs. It might be the place for you.

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