As Western Carolina University enrollment continues an upward trend, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the university are working to ensure those numbers include a significant portion of local Native American students.
On the campus of Western Carolina University is a small grassy expanse between the Natural Sciences Building and Hunter Library, one of many in this verdant mountain setting. Here, beneath the surface and through layers of earth is where a football field once sat, where farm fields lay and centuries prior, a Cherokee settlement stood.
Tom Belt, Western Carolina University’s Cherokee Language Program coordinator, will be a keynote speaker during the opening ceremony for an exhibit, “Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness,” at Jackson County Public Library at 6 p.m. Friday, June 23.
Ben Steere, director of Cherokee Studies Programs and an assistant professor of anthropology at Western Carolina University, will hold a book launch for his recent publication of “The Archaeology of Houses and Households in the Native Southeast” at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva on Friday, May 12, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Western Carolina University’s Ben Steere, assistant professor of anthropology and co-director of Cherokee Studies Programs, is recipient of the Principal Chief Leon D. Jones Award for Archaeological Excellence, presented by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Brett Riggs, Sequoyah Distinguished Professor of Cherokee Studies at Western Carolina University, has received the 2016 Cherokee National Worcester Award for his efforts to preserve Cherokee culture. It is the highest honor the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma presents to non-Cherokees for their dedication to tribal history, heritage and sovereignty.
Special Collections at Western Carolina University’s Hunter Library recently received a gift of a Cherokee language version of E.B. White’s classic children’s book “Charlotte’s Web.” In turn, WCU presented the New Kituwah Academy, a Cherokee immersion school, with card games for learning Cherokee pronouns and a Cherokee language board game, created by graphic design students and produced by the university’s print shop.
Western Carolina University recently renewed an agreement with Cherokee tribes from North Carolina and Oklahoma in which the university pledges to continue its commitment to the academic study and promotion of Cherokee language, history and culture.