Powwow to honor Faith Hedgepeth

Mar. 22, 2013 @ 06:53 PM

UNC’s Carolina Indian Circle will hold its 26th annual powwow Saturday  in honor of Faith Hedgepeth, the 19-year-old UNC junior from Hollister who was found dead in her off-campus apartment Sept. 7.

Police continue to investigate Hedgepeth’s death as a homicide.

“She was really involved in the Carolina Indian Circle,” said Jessica Oxendine, co-chairwoman of the powwow. “We thought it would be a nice representation of her life and a nice way to honor her.”

The CIC is a student organization at UNC formed in 1974 to meet the needs of American Indian students at the university, which at the time only had 10.

The powwow will be held at Fetzer Gym beginning at noon with a “grand entry” and conclude at 7:30 p.m.

It was originally scheduled to be held at Hooker Field but moved to nearby Fetzer in anticipation of inclement weather.

Hedgepeth, who planned to become a doctor so that she could provide medical care to her people, was a member of the Haliwa-Saponi American Indian Tribe and often danced during tribal ceremonies.

Oxendine said several members of Hedgepeth’s family will be in Chapel Hill to participate in today’s events.

Randi Byrd, community engagement coordinator for the university’s American Indian Center, noted that the decision to honor Hedgepeth was student-driven.

“The whole day is going to be in celebration of her life, who she was as a person, who she was as a student and her involvement with the Indian community on campus as well,” Byrd said.

She said the lead male and female dancers, as well as the host drum group, at today’s powwow are members of the Haliwa-Saponi tribe.

Chapel Hill Police investigators have said little about the circumstances of Hedgepeth’s death.

In January, department officials announced that they found DNA evidence at the scene of the crime left by a male suspect.

They said at the time that they were confident the DNA would help identify the person responsible for Hedgepeth’s death.

Anyone with information about the crime should call the Chapel Hill Police Department tip line at 919-614-6363 or Crimestoppers at 919-942-7515.

Calls to Crimestoppers are confidential and callers are eligible for up to a $39,000 reward without further involvement in the case.