The second annual Rooted in the Mountains symposium at Western Carolina University will be held Thursday, Oct. 20, and Friday, Oct. 21, in the Grandroom of the A.K. Hinds University Center.
The Rooted in the Mountains event was created to raise awareness of the intersection of environmental, health and indigenous issues related to mountain destruction.
Dennis Martinez (Tohono O’odham/Chicano), a “bio pioneer” and advocate for an indigenous perspective of ecology, will speak at 6 p.m. Thursday. Sheila Kay Adams, a longtime storyteller and performer of traditional Appalachian ballads, will lead a musical performance beginning at 7:30 p.m. Also Thursday, the documentary film “The Last Mountain” will show at 4 p.m. in the University Center theater. The screening is free. “The Last Mountain” explores the consequences of mining and burning coal and focuses in particular on the use of a method for strip-mining in Appalachia commonly known as mountaintop removal mining.
Cultural historian Jeff Biggers will start Friday’s session with a 9 a.m. keynote address. Biggers, a coal miner’s grandson and outspoken critic of mountaintop removal in Appalachia, is the author of nonfiction works “Reckoning at Eagle Creek,” “The United States of Appalachia” and “In the Sierra Madre.” The symposium also includes a Thursday reception, Friday lunch, academic presentations and a facilitated discussion.
The symposium registration fee is $125 (free to students, with an optional $10 charge for lunch). The Biggers address, part of WCU’s Art and Cultural Events Series, is free to all.
Lisa Lefler, the event’s co-organizer, said the Rooted in the Mountains symposium is for individuals interested in Native studies, health and environmental issues. Attendees might include members of the local community, both natives and newcomers; students; policy makers; and health professionals.
“Those who are interested in how the continued destruction of mountain landscapes affect us should attend, as well as those who would like to learn more about the intersection of Native ways of understanding with these issues,” said Lefler, an anthropologist and director of WCU’s Culturally Based Native Health Programs. “This event is for all who are rooted in the mountains and value our common ground.”
Lefler organized the inaugural event in honor of her mother, the late Jean Nations Lefler, and her uncle, the late Dale Nations. The siblings were “saddened in their last years about what they perceived as destruction to the mountains,” Lefler said. Though only a year old, Rooted in the Mountains is quickly evolving, and three other institutions – Berea College, Appalachian State University and Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee – have expressed interest in alternately hosting it.
Rooted in the Mountains sponsors include WCU’s Division of Educational Outreach, Mountain Heritage Center and Cherokee studies program. Community sponsors include the Center for Native Health, Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River, the Canary Coalition, the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee and the Tuckaseegee Community Alliance.
To register for the Rooted in the Mountains symposium, go online to rootedinthemtns.wcu.edu or call WCU’s Division of Educational Outreach at 828-227-7397. For additional information about Rooted in the Mountains, contact Lefler at 828-227-2164 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact co-organizer Pamela Duncan in the WCU Department of English at 828-227-3926 or email@example.com.Read the full article