USC Aiken Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

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AIKEN, SC (11/08/2018) The University of South Carolina Aiken Office of Student Life - Diversity Initiatives celebrated Native American Heritage Month with a kick-off event on the Student Activities Center patio.

Representatives from the Pee Dee Indian Tribe, PAIA Lower Eastern Cherokee and Wyandotte Nations answered questions, told stories and interacted with attendees.

"Native Americans only represent 2 percent of the entire population in the United States; however, the rich history and significant contributions Native Americans have made to this country are important and deserving of celebration," said Native American Heritage Month Planning Committee Co-Chair and Student Life Office of Diversity Initiatives Peer Educator Shekinah Hampton.

On Nov. 15, at 4:30 p.m. in Penland 106, Chief Billy Friend will be on campus to discuss "The Trail of the Wyandotte Nation," which will include the nation's forced migration from Ohio westward - also referred to as "the other Trail of Tears."

This event is hosted by the USC Aiken History Club and is free and open to the public.

Prior to assuming the position of chief, Friend served as second chief for five years. In addition, he has more than 19 years of diverse leadership and management experience. He has also served the Wyandotte Nation as director of health services, director of human Resources, and chief of staff.

As the leader of the Wyandotte Nation, Friend is responsible for fulfilling the mission statement and developing, revising and implementing strategic planning that directs all grants and contracts administered by the nation. He works with each department and committee in executing initiatives and serves as the tribal representative to all community service partners and other tribal organizations. Additionally, he is responsible for strategic development and oversight of all land claim settlement and land into trust issues and has had oversight of two tribal casino projects.

While at the helm, Friend has grown the Wyandotte Nation initiatives to more than 800 employees, with gross revenues of tribal enterprises producing over $80 million, which help fund and subsidize all of the tribal social service programs. Last year alone, the tribe funded more than $750,000 in college scholarships for tribal citizens and provided medical benefits in excess of $6 million.