Chancellor Philip Rogers said the event aligns with the university’s mission to be a model for student success, public service and regional transformation. Mentioning the November 2021 dedication of a space on campus honoring Indigenous peoples, he said Native American history is important to the region.
“I think we’re all very proud that the Native American population in North Carolina is 120,000 strong,” Rogers said. “It’s the largest on the East Coast right here in North Carolina and offers many important contributions to our community and our history.”
“An American Sunrise,” Harjo’s eighth collection of poems, focuses on the displacement of his ancestors in 1830 as a result of the Indian Removal Act.
“History will always find you and wrap you in its thousand arms,” the 70-year-old poet, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, writes in “Break My Heart,” one of more than four dozen poems in the collection.
Pamela Young-Jacobs, president of the Waccamaw-Siouan tribe, shared one of her own poems during the Big Read event.
“As we live our lives guided by the great spirit, everything we touch must be improved,” she read in her poem “Making a Difference,” which was included in “Feeding the Ancient Fires” by Marijo Moore in 1999.