Fighting isolation: How four Native women created change at UNC–Chapel Hill

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Peters, Brian. “Fighting isolation: How four Native women created change at UNC–Chapel Hill.” American Indian Quarterly, vol. 42, no. 3, summer 2018, pp. 344-374.


This article focuses on the creation and evolution of Alpha Pi Omega, a Native American sorority, at UNC-Chapel Hill by Christina Theodorou (previously Christina Strickland), a Lumbee who enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1989. Theodorou "felt unwelcomed and isolated on campus" and also "felt lost in a white majority that did not understand or appreciate her Native culture" (p. [344]). Three other women (called the Four Winds) were also founding members: Jamie Goins (Lumbee), Shannon Brayboy (Lumbee), and Amy Locklear Hertel (Lumbee/Coharie) (previously Amy Locklear).

Alpha Pi Omega has the distinction of being the first Historically Native American Fraternity and Sorority (HNAFS) in the United States (pp. [344]-345).

Author Brian Peters also explores the impact that Alpha Pi Omega had on female Native American students at UNC-Chapel Hill from 1994-2014. He bases the article on oral history interviews with key informants knowledgeable about Alpha Pi Omega, as well as on the analysis of a wide range of documents related to the sorority. He uses tribal critical race theory as his theoretical framework.

Alpha Pi Omega has expanded over the years. By 2014 there were twenty chapters in the United States, and as of 2018, the organization included more than 600 sisters from over 100 tribes (pp. 354, 365). The first new chapter was established at UNC-Pembroke in 1996 (p. 355). The sorority emphasizes sisterhood, traditional tribal culture, and a family environment, helping its members "balance the dual identitites of being Native American and a student" (p. 358).

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Appendices: 1. Oral history interview protocols. 2. Interview participant consent form.