Western Carolina University commemorated its long-lasting relationship with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians by affixing a name from Cherokee legend onto a campus housing facility in an October ceremony rededicating the building as Judaculla Hall.

Chancellor David O. Belcher and Principal Chief Richard Sneed also signed a memorandum of understanding that calls for additional collaboration between WCU and the Eastern Band and an instructional credit agreement designed to increase the number of Cherokee students enrolled at the university and to strengthen Native American student organizations on campus.

The activities occurred with Western Carolina in the midst of a yearlong observance of an interdisciplinary learning theme titled “Cherokee: Community. Culture. Connections.” The theme is designed to provide students, faculty, staff and community members with the opportunity to better understand WCU’s relationship with the Eastern Band and to build on it.

During the rededication ceremony, university officials displayed new campus signage proclaiming the name of the building in both the English and Cherokee languages. The 300-bed facility opened in 2004 as Central Drive Hall, a generic moniker given to the building pending the selection of what Belcher characterized as “the perfect name.”

Judaculla refers to a great giant who, according to Cherokee legend, resided in the Cullowhee Valley along the Tuckaseigee River. Judaculla Rock, located south of campus, is a large soapstone boulder linked to the Judaculla legend that contains some of the most significant petroglyphs east of the Mississippi River.

Photo caption: Participating in the rededication ceremony are, from left, Cherokee Principal Chief Richard Sneed, Chancellor David Belcher, Cherokee elder Jerry Wolfe and Joyce Dugan ’75 MAEd ’81, member of WCU’s Board of Trustees and former principal chief.