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Rooted in the Mountains

A poster depicting natural elements representing the rooted in the mountains.


The 13th Annual Rooted in the Mountains Symposium will occur Thursday and Friday, September 28 and 29, 2023.

Theme: “Sga du gi" Community

Meeting to be held at the Bardo Arts Center on Main Campus. 

Early Registration Fee: $75.00
Late Registration after September 8th: $125.00

WCU Faculty, Staff and Students Registration Fee: Free, but must to register to attend
Non-WCU Student Registration Fee: $25.00

There is no available overnight lodging on campus. A limited number of rooms have been reserved at the Comfort Inn in Sylva for the symposium. Other lodging may be available in nearby Sylva or Dillsboro. For a listing, please visit

Registration 8:30

Welcome and Announcements

Dr. Lisa J. Lefler, Director, WCU Culturally Based Native Health Program
Dr. Richard Starnes, WCU Provost
Mae Claxton, Professor, WCU English Department
Kituwah Welcome Song
Opening Prayer - Dr. Tom Belt (EBCI)

Introduction of Theme - Dr. Tom Belt (EBCI)
“Sga du gi ”: Community
Break 10:15 - 10:30

Keynote Speaker: Five Areas of Sovereignty
Dr. Jose Barreiro (Tiano)


10:30 -11:30
Lunch - Boxed lunches in Bardo Arts Building Star Atrium 11:30 -1:00

Panel Organizers - Dr. Trey Adcock (Cherokee) and Dr. Ameena Batata (UNCA) 
Abstract:  Cultivating Wellbeing Through Culture and Arts: Cross-Community Perspectives

Panelists:  Skye Tafoya (EBCI and Santa Clara Pueblo), Ann Miller Woodford, AnaMayra Hernandez-Aguillar and Patty Guerra

1:00- 2:00

Panel Organizer - Dr. Lisa J. Lefler (WCU)
Abstract: Two Spirit Communities
Panelists: Tyson Sampson (EBCI), Shenelle Feather (EBCI), and Atsei Cooper (EBCI)

2:00- 3:00
Break 3:00 – 3:15

Panel Organizer - Dr. Andy Denson
Abstract: Natural Resources and Sustainable Communities

Panelists: Desirae Kissell-Abella (Muscogee Creek), Onita Bush (EBCI), and Kathryn Newfont (UKy)

3:15 – 4:30

Discussions Q&A for the Day’s topics


Dinner - Catered meal in Bardo Arts Building Star Atrium (first 75 registered guests only)

Registration 8:30

Welcome and Announcements
Dr. Lisa J. Lefler, Director, WCU Culturally Based Native Health Program

Dr. Tom Belt (EBCI)


Keynote Address: Indigenous Views of Community
Dr. Katsi Cook (Mohawk)




Panel Organizers - Robin Bailey-Callahan
Abstract:  Interventions for Wellness:  Community Connection

Panelists:  Yolanda Saunocke, Keahana Lambert and Michelle Raby


10:45 - 11:45
Lunch - Food Truck (outside) 11:45 - 1:00

Panel Organizer - Jessica Cory (ASU)
Abstract:  Appalachian Writing Communities
Panelists: Dr. doris diosa davenport, Pamela Y. Duncan (WCU), Sheyahshe Littledave (EBCI)

1:00 - 2:00

Two Panel Session Organizers - Dr. Brett Riggs (WCU) and Dr. Sara Snyder Hopkins (WCU)
Abstract:  Creating Music and Dance Communities in Cherokee Appalachia

Panelists: Carmeleta Monteith (EBCI), Wayne Martin, Phil Jamison




Panel Organizers - Dr. Brett Riggs (WCU) and Dr. Sara Snyder Hopkins (WCU)
Abstract:  Appalachian and Cherokee Music and Language Communities 
Panelists: The Cherokee Repertory Choir


Discussion and Reflections

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