History of Guilford Native American Association and the Indian Community

In the early 1970’s the Indian people of Guilford County, North Carolina were known as the “invisible community” and had very little opportunity to improve their social, economic, educational, and cultural status.


As late as May 1975, only one student from a total Indian population of 1,000 graduated from the county’s three public school systems. Armed with an abundance of determination, commitment, understanding, and the moral support of each other, a small group of Indian parents gave birth to the Guilford Native American Association (GNAA). With the support of a few members of local Lutheran churches, this group of parents incorporated GNAA as a non-profit agency in September of 1975.

In these early years, GNAA was supported by Indian and non-Indian community volunteers; the NC Commission of Indian Affairs; Guilford County; and local, state, and national Lutheran organizations. In 1977, the first major funds came from the Administration for Native Americans, then a department of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.


From the humble beginning, GNAA has continued to expand its programs, services, and activities to serve the growing Indian population of Guilford and surrounding counties. From a single focus program of education and advocacy, various programs, activities, and resources have emerged


This multi-purpose urban Indian center is governed by a nine (9) member Board of Directors elected by the Indian community at its annual meeting and serves more than 6,000 Indian people in the Piedmont Triad region of North Carolina. The agency’s primary goals are to assist Indian people in achieving social and economic self-sufficiency.


Major funding comes from the Workforce Investment ACT (WIA) program through the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, DC, as well as income generated by agency projects. Smaller grants for special projects come from organizations, other government agencies, and foundations such as the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, the NC Arts Council, and the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.


The Guilford Native American Association staff is committed to the agency’s mission as set forth by the Board of Directors- to provide educational, social, economic, and cultural opportunities aimed at achieving self-sufficiency, self-determination and strengthening the Native American cultural heritage.