Documenting the American South

Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    The Gift, UNC, Chapel Hill

  • Type

    Public Space

  • Subjects

    American Indian Monuments

  • Creator

    Señora Lynch, Designer

  • City

    Chapel Hill

  • County


  • Description

    Called "The Gift," the mosaic of colored bricks that form Native American symbols serves as a walkway between the two Student Union buildings, one of the busiest places on the Carolina campus. Composed in a staggered pattern typical of beadwork but rendered in colored brick on a massive scale, the mosaic depicts traditional southeastern Native American life symbols such as turtles, eagle feathers, ears of corn, mountains, and water. The artwork is roughly 240 feet long and 40 feet wide.

    In 2015, the Native American artist Senora Lynch has added artwork to describe the symbols and call attention to the art beneath the visitor’s feet. Six decorative plaques – made of concrete dyed burnt orange to look like Lynch’s pottery – wrap around the building’s columns. Cream-colored text and iconic drawings tell the meanings behind the corn, turtle, land, dogwood flower, eagle shield, path, water and medicine wheel. The 26 round seats, also burnt orange concrete, resemble pottery or drums. Set in small groupings, they repeat the symbols on their tops and also provide a place to rest and see the art.

  • Inscription

    THE / GIFT / The designs on the / pathway symbolize the / gifts of life. They / represent the resources / needed to guide and to / provide for the next generation. The / symbols are drawn from Native American / traditions and the natural world. / As you walk along this path, / look for each of these symbols and / consider the ways they connect to your life. / THE CORN REPRESENTS FOOD AND IS CALLED / THE STAFF OF LIFE. THE TURTLE SYMBOLIZES / LONG LIFE AND FERTILITY. THE DOGWOOD / FLOWER SYMBOLIZES NEW BEGINNINGS AND SPRINGTIME. / THE EAGLE SHIELD PROTECTS US. THE WATER / REPRESENTS LIFE. THE LAND / REPRESENTS STABILITY. THE MEDICINE WHEEL / SYMBOLIZES UNITY AND THE CYCLES OF / LIFE. THE PATH IS / THE DIRECTION WE TAKE. / THE GIFT was designed by Senora Lynch / (b. 1963) of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian / Tribe, North Carolina / (Signature of Senora Lynch) / 2004-2014

  • Custodian

    UNC Chapel Hill

  • Dedication Date

    April 20, 2004. Rededication: April 10, 2015

  • Decade


  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.910050 , -79.047760 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      "The Gift," American Indian Center, UNC, (accessed August 15, 2020) Link

      "The Gift," The Carolina Story: A Virtual Museum of University History, (accessed April 3, 2012) Link

      Hudson, Susan. "Rededicating the Gift," The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill website,, (accessed April 15, 2015) Link

  • Public Site


  • Materials & Techniques


  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    The monument and its creator were honored at 12:15 pm on April 20, 2004. Greg Richardson, executive director of the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs, spoke. Derek Oxendine, a UNC junior who was president of the student group Carolina Indian Circle, also spoke and burned sacred herbs.

    On April 10, 2015, The Gift was rededicated to mark the completion of the project’s second phase. Lynch’s daughter, Qua, performed the Corn Planting Dance in full regalia, spreading corn from a beribboned basket. Marty Richardson, Haliwa-Saponi and a doctoral candidate in history, concluded the event with an honor song dedicated to the late Haliwa-Saponi Chief W.R. Richardson.

  • Subject Notes

    Lynch called her work The Gift because she believes “we all have something inside of ourselves, something that we can share, something we’re meant to do, meant to be,” she said. Her gift is her artistic talent. The monument contains images of turtles, eagle feathers, ears of corn, mountains, and water. A plaque near the monument explains the symbolism behind each image.

  • Location

    "The Gift" serves as a walkway between the two Student Union buildings on the UNC campus, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Landscape

    The artwork makes up the walkway along side the Frank Porter Graham Student Union

  • Rededicated


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