Western Carolina University faculty members Ron Rash and Tom Belt will deliver keynote addresses as the fourth annual Rooted in the Mountains: Valuing Our Common Ground symposium is held Friday and Saturday, Sept. 20-21, at Western Carolina University’s Health and Human Sciences Building.
The symposium is designed to raise awareness of the intersection of health, language, environmental and indigenous issues with the stewardship of Appalachia and its resources.
Rash, WCU’s Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture, is author of the New York Times bestselling novel “Serena” and four other prize winning novels – “One Foot in Eden,” “Saints at the River,” “The World Made Straight” and “The Cove,” as well as five collections of short stories and four volumes of poetry.
In his symposium talk, “Lasting Water: A Reading and Discussion on Saving Our Streams,” Rash will address the importance of clean water in the region and the significance of water in his writings. “Rooted in the Mountains is an important event, not just for Western Carolina University, but for all of Southern Appalachia,” he said.
Belt will be speaking about the importance of the region’s rivers in his talk, “The Teachings of the Long Person.” Coordinator of the Cherokee language program at WCU and member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Belt has been a North Carolina resident for 19 years and has taught the Cherokee language at the elementary school in Cherokee. He also is a frequent guest lecturer at other universities, including Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Purdue, and he works as a consultant for the Center for Native Health Inc.
The symposium also will include a showing of “Tapped,” a documentary that examines the bottled water industry and its effects on individuals’ health and the environment, followed by a panel discussion. A reception for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians exhibit “Understanding Our Past, Shaping Our Future” and a concert featuring Sheila Kay Adams, the Downhome Divas, and Ian Moore and the Secondhand String Band also are on the lineup of activities.
Symposium registration is free for all students and WCU faculty and staff. Registration for others is $125.
To see a complete schedule and to register, visit rootedinthemtns.wcu.edu or call WCU’s Division of Educational Outreach at 828-227-7397.