Native American Heritage Month is much more than a celebration of the past

Children from the New Kituwah Academy and Cherokee Elementary School. Photo by Tanner Hall.

Western Carolina University celebrated Native American Heritage Month this November with its fourth annual Native American Heritage Expo featuring a wide variety of events on November 19 and 20.

The expo is the largest Native American event held at Western each year and included a presentation of songs in the Cherokee language and a panel of elders and teachers in the Cherokee community to discuss how their values influence education.

Roseanna Belt, director of WCU’s Cherokee Center, helped guide the panel’s discussion and played a role in planning the expo.

“My favorite aspect is that the focus of the event is exclusively about Natives. The majority of the presentations, performances and exhibits are related to the Cherokee because Western is located in the ancient homeland of Cherokee culture,” said Belt in an email message.

In the future, the expo will continue to grow if more Native students at Western can get involved and improve the turnout of both Native and non-Native cultures.

“I just know that if all the Indian students would attend meetings, we could do some spectacular things. Next year I’d like to see more than 2 days and other tribes represented in the presentations, performances and exhibits,” said Belt. See the full story.