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Race, Racism, and Racial Equity (R3) Symposium is a series of virtual events hosted by the University Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Jordan Institute for Families, and Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the UNC School of Social Work that bring together scholars and researchers from across campus to share their work to advance equity with Carolina and the broader community.

Date and Time: April 17, 2:30-4pm

Location: Zoom (register below)

Title: Citizenship and Sovereignty – Highlighting Indigenous Student Scholarship

Event description:

In our 8th R3 session, we bring together Indigenous student scholars from across campus to highlight their efforts to both advance racial equity through their research and to use anti-oppressive methods in their work. Spanning American Studies, Public Health, Anthropology, and Clinical Laboratory Sciences, their work all touches in some way on the theme of Citizenship and Sovereignty, from respecting sovereignty by navigating tribal channels to obtain research approval to how citizenship allows or disallows access to health. To uplift the contributions of native students, faculty, and staff to the UNC community, the session will also present a brief history of Indigenous university admissions and activism, from the first American Indian student, Henry Owl, to the founding of the American Indian Center and the Carolina Indian Circle.

Moderator: Colby Taylor

Panelists: Joel Begay, Marissa Carmi, Ryan Dial, Rachel Wilbur


Registration link:



Colby Taylor

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Undergraduate Honors Student, Department of Political Science
Jones-Bowman Fellow, Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute




Colby Taylor, an Honors Senior majoring in Political Science at UNC-CH, is committed to improving human life and inspiring future generations. He serves as an undergraduate representative for the working group on Global Indigeneity and American Indian Studies, demonstrating his dedication to advancing cultural understanding and empowerment, and he is a Jones-Bowman Leadership Fellow at the Ray Kinsland Leadership Institute. He also worked inside the Legal Assistance Office of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians as a legal intern, working on legal sovereignty within the context of federal and state law. Colby’s election as a Youth Delegate for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Constitutional Convention underscores his role in shaping the future of his community and preserving its heritage. He initiated a food insecurity initiative between Cherokee Central Schools and Manna Foodbank, reflecting his commitment to addressing pressing community needs and enhancing the well-being of those in the Qualla Boundary. Colby’s research at Carolina explores sovereignty and institutional relationships, particularly in the context of Land Back Abolition. He delves into UNC’s interactions with students of color and their perspectives on the institution, aligning his academic pursuits with his advocacy for social justice and inclusivity. Through his research, political activism, and civic engagement, Colby champions Indigenous sovereignty, cultural preservation, and economic development, striving to create a brighter future for all.




Joel Begay, MPH
Enrolled member of the Navajo Nation
Doctoral student, Epidemiology

Joel is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, originally from Shiprock, NM. He is a first-year PhD student studying Cancer Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. His current research supports Dr. Marc Emerson on integrating tumor biology and social determinants of health using data from the Carolina Breast Cancer Study. Prior to joining the doctoral program, Joel was a medical and surgical assistant at Vanguard Skin Specialists in Colorado Springs, CO which specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. He was also a fellow with the Cancer Epidemiology Education in Special Populations (CEESP) Program through the University of Nebraska Medical Center, a Research Associate with Michigan Medicine at the University of Michigan, an Epidemiologist with the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center, a Data Manager/Analyst with the Lifecourse Epidemiology of Adiposity & Diabetes (LEAD) at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and a Research Associate with the Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health, conducting community-based research to address disparities in cancer education, care access, and outcomes among American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) communities. Given Joel’s clinical and research background, he aspires to advance health equity, strengthen public health systems, and build public health infrastructure with particular focus on AIAN communities.

Marissa Carmi
Enrolled Citizen, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin
Associate Director, American Indian Center
PhD Candidate in American Studies

Marissa Carmi is a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and a PhD candidate specializing in American Indian and Indigenous Studies. Her research explores the multidimensionality of Oneida sovereignty in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and Oneida intellectual history. As an executive member of UNC’s First Nations Graduate Circle, a community of Indigenous graduate and professional students, she collaborates with campus organizations and local stakeholders to advocate for the Native UNC community. Before pursuing her doctorate, she worked full-time for the Administration for Native Americans (ANA), providing technical assistance to Tribal Nations and Native organizations implementing community development programs. To further develop her skills as a resource to Native communities, she joined the inaugural cohort for Carolina’s Innovation for the Public Good program in fall 2020. Marissa continues to serve ANA applicants and grantees as a consultant.

Ryan Dial, MLS(ASCP)cm
Citizen of the Lumbee Tribe of NC
Master’s Candidate, Clinical Laboratory Science

Ryan is a citizen of the Lumbee Tribe of NC and works at UNC Chapel Hill as an American Indian Health, project manager. The programs he manages includes the Southeastern American Indian Cancer health Equity Partnership with the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as the Healthy Native North Carolinian network through the UNC American Indian Center. He is also completing a master’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Science at UNC where his research focuses on the utilization of lab screening in Native communities. In his personal and professional life, Ryan work to better the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples.


Rachel Wilbur, PhD, MPH
Descendant Tolowa and Chetco
Assistant Professor, College of Medicine
Washington State University
PhD ’22 Biological Anthropology from UNC

Rachel E. Wilbur, PhD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor with the Institute for Research and Education to Advance Community Health (IREACH) in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine at Washington State University. She is descendant Tolowa and Chetco and grew up in Northern California and Western Washington State. Her research focus is on the role of cultural engagement and revitalization in promoting wellbeing for American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and she is a particularly invested in community and strengths-based research. She received both her MPH in health behavior and her PhD in biological anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before continuing her training as a postdoctoral fellow in Indigenous Community Wellbeing at Harvard Medical School, where she was also a scholar with the Harvard University Native American Program.

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Ackland Museum: Past Forward: Native American Art from Gilcrease Museum

North Carolina Museum of Art: To Take Shape and Meaning: Form and Design in Contemporary American Indian Art

Carolina Indian Circle Powwow: March 2nd

University Network of Native Leaders Conference: March 2nd

Ani Kahwi (Cherokee Coffee Hour) – Tuesdays 2-3pm Abernethy Hall