Bird, Godwin chosen to head NC American Indian Heritage Commission.

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Aug. 5—RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary D. Reid Wilson announced recently the appointments of a director and associate director of the newly created North Carolina American Indian Heritage Commission.

The director will be Kerry Bird and the associate Quinn West Godwin.

"We are committed to inclusive and accurate representation of the people and history of North Carolina," Wilson said. "The American Indian Heritage Commission under the leadership of Kerry Bird and Quinn Godwin will help realize this vision by ensuring that state-supported sites and resources preserve and promote American Indian culture and contributions to our state."

Created by the 2021 State Budget Act, the commission is intended to "advise and assist the Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources in the preservation, interpretation, and promotion of American Indian history, arts, customs, and culture."

Kerry Bird

Bird is an enrolled citizen of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate and is of Lumbee tribal heritage. He is president of the Triangle Native American Society and a former president of the National Indian Education Association, the oldest and largest organization that works to advance culturally relevant educational opportunities for American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students. Bird is a member of the Dix Park community committee, local advisory board for the Ackland Art Museum, N.C. Botanical Garden Foundation Board, and the UNC World View Council of Advisors. He currently serves on the Alumni Committee for Racial and Ethnic Diversity and formerly served on the Board of Visitors for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Bird graduated with a bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master's degree in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

"I'm very excited to be the inaugural director of the American Indian Heritage Commission," Bird said. "The Commission will bring visibility and recognition to North Carolina's first peoples and create a greater understanding and appreciation for their rich cultures. We have eight state-recognized tribes and four urban Indian organizations representing a diverse population living across the state. I'm proud to be able to amplify their voices so they can be heard."

Quinn West Godwin

Godwin was born and raised in Pembroke, and is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. Godwin graduated with a bachelor's degree in Dramatic Arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and holds a J.D. from the UNC School of Law, where he served as president of the UNC Native American Law Students Association in his final year. In late 2017 and 2018, Godwin completed the UNC American Indian Center's Native Leadership Institute as part of its third cohort. For the past four years he has served as a field coordinator for Gov. Roy Cooper's Office of Public Engagement and Inclusion where, among other tasks, he served as an outreach liaison to diverse communities across the state.

"This is a great step forward for our American Indian communities here in North Carolina," said Rep. Charles Graham. "I know that these two gentlemen will do a great job in giving our state-recognized tribes the attention they deserve. Last session, I personally championed this commission because I knew it was vital to have parity for our American Indian peoples at the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. I look forward to their continued work and the opportunities that this will bring not just for our people but for all our state-recognized tribes."