Owl was a pioneer for American Indians. The EBCI tribal member was
the first person of color admitted to the University of North Carolina
and the first American Indian graduate.
He received his master's degree in history from the school
in 1929. Owl's master's thesis was entitled "The
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians: Before and After the Removal".
The university has named a fellowship after Owl in honor of his
The Henry Owl Fellowship, offered through the UNC American
Indian Center, funds a two-week language immersion program at the
Museum of the Cherokee Indian and includes a stipend of $1,500,
tuition and living expenses.
"Henry Owl opened doors for Cherokees to seek graduate
degrees and to exercise their right to vote," said Theda Perdue,
UNC American Indian Center. "By doing so, he made North Carolina
a more just state. UNC is pleased to honor him with the Henry Owl
Fund, which will support the Henry Owl Graduate Fellowship and instructional
programs in Cherokee language, history, and culture."
Owl's daughter Gladys Cardiff followed in her father's
academic footsteps and has earned a doctorate and is a professor
at Oakland University. "My father inspired me in words and
in deeds. I am made humble and also filled with inspiration when
I think of how hard he worked to get a good education. For him,
doing more than what was required was the norm. His aim was to excel
in all that he did, whether it was academics, or sports, or singing
beautifully in his deep bass voice."
"He was a modest and gentle man who believed in behaving
properly and decently toward everyone he met. He had two admonishments
for me and my sisters and brother that he repeated throughout his
lifetime: 'Get a good education'" and 'Remember
who you are'. His example gave me the courage to go back to
school after my two children were finished with their own college
careers. I earned my doctorate and am now a professor at Oakland
University with a specialty in Native American literature and in
creative writing. I have had two books of poetry published and am
finishing a third. I include this information simply to underscore
his legacy as a loving father who inspired me to emulate his work
ethic and morals. It has been my honor to introduce students to
the wonderful stories, poems, and memoirs of Native writers."
Brooke Bauer, a Ph.D. student at UNC's College of Arts
and Sciences and member of the Catawba Nation, was a recipient of
the Fellowship in May. "Language study enriches the understanding
of American Indian culture, and makes UNC's American Indian
studies concentration one of the most innovative in the nation."
Perdue wrote a paper about Owl in which she discusses his life
and legacy including his fight for the right of American Indians
to vote. "He (Owl) made his mark on the history of Indian civil
rights when he tried to register to vote in Swain County. At first,
the registrar refused to register him on the basis that he was illiterate.
When Owl presented his thesis, the registrar claimed that Cherokees
did not have the right to vote in North Carolina because they were
wards of the government and not citizens, despite a federal law
in 1924 that made all Indians citizens."
"In 1930, Owl's testimony before the Senate about
the discrimination he had suffered prompted Congress to enact a
law extending citizenship rights to members of the Eastern Band
of Cherokee Indians, the last Indian tribe in the United States
to be guaranteed the right to vote."
For more information on the Henry Owl Fellowship, visit http://gradschool.unc.edu/diversity/americanindian/henryowlfellowship.html,
(919) 843,4189 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.