Myrtle Driver teaches Cherokee words and syllabary terms for painting, and reviews kickball terms at Cherokee Language and Culture Camp held at Big Cove Recreation Center in Cherokee, N.C., on Monday, July 9. "First and foremost is to save our language," Driver says. Kids at the camp practice traditional arts and learn the Cherokee language and syllabary. Mike Belleme/Carolina Public Press

Press release from Western Carolina University, shared Nov. 12:

Event to be held at Western Carolina University on Monday, Tuesday

CULLOWHEE – In recognition of American Indian Heritage Month, Western Carolina University will host its fourth annual Native American Heritage Expo on Monday, Nov. 19, and Tuesday, Nov. 20, in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center.

The event will feature workshops, speakers, presentations, exhibits and performances with a focus on Native American values, traditions and social justice. All events are free and open to the public.

Beginning at 9 a.m. with a welcome, the Nov. 19 program will include:

  • A 10 a.m. presentation by Judy Castorena, a teacher from the Cherokee schools, on the “Remember the Removal” bike ride. The ride is an annual event in which cyclists follow the path of the infamous Trail of Tears from Cherokee to Tahlequah, Okla.
  • A presentation of songs in the Cherokee language at 11:30 a.m. by students from the Cherokee Elementary School and New Kituwah Academy.
  • A presentation on Cherokee language music curriculum by Sara Snyder, a musicologist from Columbia University, and Cherokee Language activist Nannie Taylor at 1:15 p.m.
  • “Computer Says ‘Hello’: Native Language Learning and Electronic Media,” presented by Hartwell Francis and Tom Belt, director and coordinator, respectively, of WCU’s Cherokee Language Program, at 2:30 p.m.
  •  A reception for Native American students and guests at 4 p.m.
  • A panel at 5:30 p.m., “Improving Educational Attainment Through Native American Culture,” sponsored by Lisa Bloom of the Diversity Dialogues Committee in WCU’s School of Teaching and Learning. Panelists will include Jerry Wolfe and Myrtle Driver, elders in the Cherokee community, as well as Castorena and another teacher from Cherokee, Jonnie Walkingstick. Facilitated by Roseanna Belt, director of WCU’s Cherokee Center, the event will include a discussion about how Native American culture can positively influence education for children and youth. Other sponsors are WCU’s Department of Human Services and the dean’s office in the College of Education and Allied Professions.

The Nov. 20 program begins at 9 a.m. with “From the Hands of Our Elders: Exploring Hunter Library’s Online Resources” by Anna Fariello, associate research professor and director of digital programs at WCU’s Hunter Library. Fariello will speak about the many free online resources offered by the library that focus on Cherokee culture.

The expo will conclude at 10:30 a.m. with Anna Taylor, an artist from Cherokee, speaking about her work and then conducting a workshop on finger weaving for registered participants. Materials will be provided.

The expo is sponsored by WCU’s Department of Intercultural Affairs, Cherokee Studies Program, Cherokee Language Revitalization Program, Cherokee Center, Student Government Diversity Council, office of the Sequoyah Distinguished Professor, Digali’i (WCU’s American Indian student organization) and Hunter Library.

For more information about expo activities, call the Cherokee Center at (828) 497-7920. To register for the finger weaving workshop, contact the Office of Intercultural Affairs at (828) 227-2276.

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Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at

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