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Setting an example

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NAS Center names galleries in honor of local supporters

By Reece Murphy

The University of South Carolina Lancaster’s Native American Studies Center thanked three of its most supportive community partners Thursday, Sept. 5 by naming galleries in their honor.

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The honorees for the event included a corporation, a municipality and an individual: Duke Energy, the city of Lancaster and museum benefactor and community altruist Lindsay Pettus.

The center’s show of appreciation took place during a gallery naming ceremony attended by state and local dignitaries, community members, students, members of the Catawba Nation and representatives of other Native American tribes.

USCL Dean Dr. Walt Collins welcomed the crowd with details of the new NAS Center’s successes.

Since opening 11 months ago, Collins said, the center has welcomed nearly 6,000 visitors, including students and county residents, as well visitors from 32 South Carolina counties, 30 U.S. states and 16 countries.

“It has been a tremendous 11 months and the response has been overwhelmingly positive and affirms the decision to launch this collaborative effort between USC Lancaster and the city of Lancaster,” Collins said.

“Most importantly of all, Native Americans who enter this center know that their histories, cultures and traditions are not only honored, but are also shown respect here. 

“The faculty and staff will continue to invest the time and effort to preserve the history of Native Americans for generations to come,” Collins said.

Thursday’s ceremony celebrated the naming of three galleries: The Duke Energy Gallery, The Red Rose Gallery and The D. Lindsay Pettus Gallery.

Duke Energy District Manager Rick Jiran accepted the honor for the company.

Jiran joked that former USCL Dean Dr. John Catalano welcomed him to the area in 2006 with a call asking for financial support.

Jiran said Catalano, “like any good dean would do,” continued to make requests for financial support, and he was happy to oblige, especially when Catalano requested support for his vision of the NAS Center.

“In all sincerity, there was one thing about this project, it was a no-brainer,” Jiran said. 

“When dean Catalano talked about the Native American Center, the economic impact, the impact for students, the impact for the city, you couldn’t help but be excited, couldn’t help but be involved.

“Duke Energy is proud to be part of this center, proud to be part of USCL, and proud to be part of Lancaster,” he said.

Lancaster Mayor Joe Shaw, joined by several municipal officials, accepted the honor for the city.

Shaw said the city’s involvement with the center began with several hundred thousand dollars worth of support that has grown to more than $1 million. He said he and others are still convinced the investment is worth it.

Shaw said the center “is the best thing that’s happened to this city,” a draw for downtown and an investment in the cultural education of the city’s residents and children.

Most of all, Shaw said, he’s proud the city of Lancaster is home to a facility that honors the legacy and contributions of Native Americans, and proud of Lancaster’s valued partnership with USCL.

“It’s our university and we’re proud of it,” Shaw said. “And we’re going to do everything – as long as I’m mayor – to support it.”

Pettus, owner of D. Lindsay Pettus Real Estate in Lancaster, is a life-long Lancaster County resident and longtime supporter of local historic, conservation and community causes.

In introducing Pettus, NAS Center Director Dr. Stephen Criswell said Pettus was instrumental in procuring the university’s acclaimed collection of Catawba pottery and extensive research from Dr. Tom Blumer, which the center now houses.

“Lindsay had a vision and he said,  ‘The clay for those pots was dug from Lancaster County and it should come back to Lancaster County,’” Chriswell said.

During his comments, Pettus told about the first time he saw the collection, stacked to the ceiling of a storage building in cardboard boxes.

Pettus said he was almost overwhelmed as he thought about the time the Catawba Indian potters had spent digging clay for the pots from local river banks, the tears they cried over and love they gave their unique handiwork.

He said it was a partnership that brought the collection to USCL, and it was partnerships that would preserve the NAS Center’s mission.

“The partnership with Dr. John Catalano, and USCL, and the partnership with the city and its staff, and yes, a little bit of Catawba potter brought us here today,” Pettus said. “I want to tell you, I love you, and I love Lancaster County.”

With that, NAS Center Curator of Collections Brittany Taylor unveiled the galleries’ three signs, made and donated by local artist Bob Doster.

After the event, Chriswell said contributions of the three were immeasurable to the center’s very existence.

“We wouldn’t be here without them,” Chriswell said. “We wouldn’t be here without the city, because we wouldn’t have the building. We wouldn’t have anything to put in it without Lindsay Pettus; and we wouldn’t be able to store the pottery without Duke Energy; they donated these cases, and provided us with grant money for more pottery purchases.”

Chriswell said community support has a compounding effect that helps make it easier for the NAS Center to procure grants.

To date, thanks in large part to the center’s success, the collection and financial support of Duke Energy and others, the center has procured more than $100,000 in grants. 

Chriswell said there are many opportunities for community and its business owners to help support the center.

“There are plenty of other spaces that still need to be named, another gallery, a meeting room, an archeology lab,” Chriswell said. “We hope to they (the honorees) set an example for how other businesses and individuals can support the Native American Studies Center.”

The USCL Native American Studies Center can be reached at (803) 313-7172.

Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151