Native American Studies Center celebrates first year downtown

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By Denyse Clark

The University of South Carolina Lancaster recently celebrated a milestone with the one-year anniversary of the Native American Studies Center, at 119 S. Main St. 

The center, established August 2012, offers visitors the opportunity to view the single largest collection of Catawba Indian pottery in existence. 

The center also maintains primary and secondary texts on Native Americans in the Southeast; provides educational classes and programs and offers archaeology, language, folklore and oral history labs. The USCL Native American Studies Center is managed by director Dr. Stephen Criswell, as well as assistant director and Anthropology/Archaeology instructor, Chris Judge, who offered a slide-show presentation at the Nov. 26 meeting of  Lancaster City Council.

“We’ve had nearly 7,000 visitors from 32 (U.S) states and 16 countries,” Judge told council.

The center provided 48 tours which included nine school visits, 16 events, nine exhibits, six public lectures and six lunch-n-learn special lectures that averaged 25 to 35 attendees.

Judge’s presentation included photographs of teachers from the Lancaster County School district who attended the center for a training workshop and a Lancaster County Council on Aging tour.

On average, the center welcomed about 550 visitors per month until the summer when that average decreased, Judge said.

Currently, “foot traffic” is lowest on Sunday, a factor which might lead to the decision to not open those days beginning in 2014, he said. Judge thanked city leaders for the support the Native American Studies Center has received from the municipality, and did make one request.

“We’d like to do a native garden in the Red Rose Garden Park,” he said. “We’d like a plot to plant sunflowers, corn, native tobacco and beans.”

Red Rose Garden Park is located across Main Street from the Native American Studies Center. City of Lancaster Administrator Helen Sowell will meet with Judge to determine the plot size and what portion of the property he wants to use, she said.

She will provide an update to the council.

Judge also invited the community to attend the Dec. 20 “Lunch-n-Learn” at the Native American Studies Center. That day, Dr. Ron Cox, associate professor of history and associate dean for academic & student affairs at USCL, will discuss the British side of the American Revolution.

The center is open on Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.; Mondays by appointment only; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sowell said the center has become a much-needed addition to the downtown business district.

“I want to say to USCL, we are appreciative for everything they do,” she said. “The partnership between USCL and Lancaster has been great.”


Contact reporter Denyse Clark at (803) 283-1152