“The Importance of Time and Place” is the theme for Western Carolina University’s seventh annual symposium Rooted in the Mountains: Valuing Our Common Ground on Thursday, Sept. 22, and Friday, Sept. 23, at WCU’s Health and Human Sciences Building.
Highlights include a showing of the documentary “Cameron,” written and produced by Nadia Dean of Otto and based on her book “A Demand of Blood,” which chronicles the Cherokee War of 1776 and the story of loyalist Indian agent Alexander Cameron. Dean will sign copies of the book, which also will be available for purchase at the event.
The keynote address will be delivered by Brett Riggs, WCU Sequoyah Distinguished Professor of Cherokee Studies. Also featured will be a session presented by Tom Belt, WCU Cherokee Language Program coordinator, and T.J. Holland of the Eastern Band of Cherokee titled “Importance of Time from a Cherokee Perspective,” and a field trip to Judaculla Rock, a soapstone boulder covered in Native American petroglyphs.
The symposium is a collaborative meeting that seeks to integrate indigenous and local knowledge with health and environmental issues. Both Southern Appalachian and native peoples’ worldviews are addressed in an attempt to better understand the issues and dynamics of humanity’s place and relationship with the natural world, as well as understand the challenges that arise in an ever-changing world.
Music, discussions and question-and-answer sessions are included in both day’s scheduled activities. A brief history of the Rooted in the Mountains symposiums will be given by Lisa Lefler, director of WCU’s Culturally Based Native Health Programs, in the event’s opening. She said the symposiums have provided meaningful dialogues to “promote a paradigm shift in our understanding of how our health and well-being is directly connected to our relationship with the environment.”
Attendees also will get to visit a new Mountain Heritage Center exhibit on the life and work of Horace Kephart, an early 20th-century outdoors writer and proponent to establish Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Kephart wrote extensively about the Eastern Band of Cherokee and chronicled their way of life and traditions.
Registration is $75, with WCU students and faculty, and Eastern Band tribal elders, admitted free. To see a complete schedule or to register, visit rootedinthemtns.wcu.edu or call Lefler at 828-227-2164.
By Geoff Cantrell