101 McKee Building
Cullowhee, NC 28723
828.227.7268 tel
828.227.7061 fax


Cherokee Studies Experts

Western's Cherokee Studies team is composed of experts—faculty, educators, and administrators—from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds.

Roseanna S. Belt, Director of the Western Carolina University-Cherokee Center

Roseanna BeltBorn in Cherokee, N.C., and an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), Belt has been director of the Cherokee Center since June, 2001. She received her bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she worked for 10 years as a University counselor, and earned her master’s degree in Counseling and Consulting Psychology from Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. Upon returning to Cherokee, she received certification in school counseling from Western.

Belt’s current position with Western allows her to continue her work with Cherokee students. Her goal is to prepare more Cherokees for college and to encourage them to attend. Belt also serves as a clinical faculty in the School of Education and Allied Professions. The course she co-teaches is “Education In A Diverse Society.” She serves on several university committees related to diversity and minority issues, as well as working closely with the Sequoyah Distinguished Professor in building the Cherokee Studies program at Western.

(828) 497-7920

Tom Belt, Cherokee Language Program Coordinator

Tom BeltTom Belt is the Western Carolina University Cherokee Language Program Coordinator.  Mr. Belt sworking to create a state-of-the-art Cherokee language program at the university level.  Mr. Belt teaches the first four semesters of Cherokee language and he co-teaches courses on Cherokee grammar and Cherokee language literature.  Mr. Belt, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is a fluent Cherokee speaker and he works closely with speakers from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to produce culturally-based Cherokee language learning material. Before joining the Cherokee Language Program, Mr. Belt worked as a counselor's aide in a local treatment center for native youths with chemical dependencies.  He attended the Universities of Oklahoma and Colorado and taught the Cherokee language at the Cherokee elementary school in Cherokee, NC. Mr. Belt has also served as a consultant to various cultural archives and to various indigenous language programs in public schools and on the post-secondary level.


Andrew Denson
, Associate Professor of History

Andrew Denson 

Andrew Denson teaches courses in Native American and United States history.  He holds degrees from the University of Illinois and Indiana University. He is the author of Demanding the Cherokee Nation: Indian Autonomy and American Culture, 1830-1900, as well as articles in various journals. His current research focuses on Native Americans and historical memory.

(828) 227-3867



 Dr. Jane Eastman, Associate Professor of Anthropology; Director of Cherokee Studies 

Jane Eastman

Dr. Eastman received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests include Native American societies of the Southeastern United States, particularly community organization, gender relations, pottery analysis, and culture contact studies.

Dr. Eastman teaches on the origins of civilization, world prehistory, Indians of North America, method and theory in archaeology and bioanthropology, archaeological field and analytical methods, and hopes to soon add courses on Southeastern US archaeology and gender studies. She is working with Roseanna Belt, director of Western’s Cherokee Center, on a Cherokee Language Preservation Grant from the Cherokee Cultural Preservation Foundation and is an active member of the Cherokee Language Revitalization Committee. In the summer of 2003 she was elected president of the North Carolina Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association.

(828) 227-3841

 Anna Fariello, Associate Research Professor, Hunter Library

Anna Fariello

Anna Fariello, Associate Professor at WCU's Hunter Library, is head of the library’s Digital Initiatives program, which builds websites and collections focused on southern Appalachian history and culture.  Cherokee Traditions: From the Hands of our Elders is a website focused on Cherokee culture.

Fariello holds an MFA in visual art and an MA in museum studies and art history.  With twenty years' experience in the fields of higher education and museums, she is a former research fellow at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art and Archives of American Art and field researcher for the Smithsonian Folklife Center.  She curated Huichol Tablas, an exhibition on the work of indigenous peoples of Mexico.  In 2000, she was a senior Fullbright fellow to Latin America, where she taught museology and visited and photographed the Kuna and Ebera.

She is the author of Cherokee Carving (2013), Cherokee Pottery (2011), and Cherokee Basketry (2009) as well as two earlier books on material culture, A Virginia Field Guide to Cultural Sites (2006) and Objects and Meaning (2003).  She is Visual Art Editor for the Encyclopedia of Appalachia.  She has presented her work at the International Conference of Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums.  She currently serves as Museology Specialist for the US Fulbright Commission and on the board of the World Craft Council.  In 2010, she was the recipient of the Brown Hudson Award from the North Carolina Folklore Society .

(828) 227-2499

Dr. Hartwell Francis, Cherokee Language Program Director

Hartwell Francis

Hartwell Francis, Ph.D., is the Director of the Western Carolina University Cherokee Language Program.  After graduating from the University of New Mexico with a BA in Spanish and Latin American Studies, Dr. Francis earned an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the Applied Linguistics Department of Portland State University in Oregon.  Using his degree and experience accumulated during his studies abroad, he taught English language in Mexico and Japan.  These experiences drew him further into linguistics, and he soon found himself at the University of Colorado, where he earned a Ph.D. in theoretical linguistics.  At CU he focused on the syntax-semantics interface in Native American languages.

Shortly after graduating from CU, he joined the faculty of Cherokee Studies as the Director of the Cherokee Language Program.  Dr. Francis has worked with Cherokee Language Coordinator Thomas Belt on the Western Carolina University Cherokee language curriculum.  Together they have instituted the Cherokee Scholars program, which brings members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to campus to speak about their experiences as Cherokee language teachers.  Dr. Francis teaches courses on Cherokee grammar, language death, language revitalization, and linguistic anthropology. 

(828) 227-2303

 Dr. Lisa J. Lefler, Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Culturally Based Native Health Programs, College of Health & Human Sciences WCU


Lisa LeflerDr. Lefler received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in 1996. A medical and applied anthropologist with a focus in behavioral health, she has worked with the Indian Health Service, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians (EBCI), the Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, and Chickasaw Nations of Oklahoma and many other tribes nationally. Lisa is also Executive Director of the Center for Native Health, a local non-profit.  Other interests and works of Dr. Lefler include Indian youth and drug/alcohol abuse, health-related issues concerning stress, historic grief and trauma, traditional childbirth, Indigenous Science, and Cherokee women and stickball. Courses taught include Cherokee Culture and History, Southern Appalachian Culture, Native Peoples of North America, Applied Anthropology, Medical Anthropology, Ethnographic Research Methods, Women, Culture, Health & Healing, Indigenous and Western Psychologies, and Issues in Indian Health.  She is a former President of the Southern Anthropological Society and current chair for the Zora Neale Hurston Award for SAS, and a member of the Lambda Alpha National Collegiate Honors Society for Anthropology.


(828) 227-2164

 Dr. Anne Rogers, Professor of Anthropology, Retired

Anne RogersDr. Rogers, a Ph.D. graduate of the University of Georgia, joined the faculty at Western in 1980. Her areas of interest are southeastern archaeology—she has worked on numerous Cherokee archaeological sites in the area—and Native America studies. She teaches courses on contemporary Cherokee culture and on North American Indians and related topics. Her most recent publication is "Chestnuts and Native Americans" in the Journal of the American Chestnut Foundation, Vol. XVI (No. 1) Fall 2002.

Since coming to western North Carolina, Dr. Rogers has studied the Cherokee language and come to appreciate the persistence of the Cherokee in retaining not only their language but other elements of their culture. Her appreciation of the natural environment in which Cherokee culture has developed is continually expanding; her respect for their accomplishments also has grown greatly.

(828) 227-3276

Mr. George Frizzell
, Head of Special Collections, Hunter Library

Mr. Frizzell has an MA in history from Western and a MLS from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He is a recognized expert in the fields of Cherokee and Appalachian history.

(828) 227-7474

Benjamin A. Steere, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Ben Steere






Brett Riggs, Ph.D., Sequoyah Distinguished Professor

Brett Riggs



  • Phone: 828-227-2443
  • Email:
  • Office Address 105B McKee
  • Curriculum Vitae




Jim Veteto, Ph.D., Assistant Professof of Anthropology

Jim Veteto


  • Courses Taught Regularly: Comparative Cultural Systems, Applied Anthropology, Environmental Anthropology
  • Research Interests: Environmental Anthropology, Ethnoecology, Climate Change, Alternative Political Ecologies, Sustainable Agriculture, Appalachian Studies, Cherokee Studies
  • Phone: 828-227-3777
  • Email:
  • Office Address: 106A McKee
  • Curriculum Vitae



Janina C. DeHart, M.S.

Janina Dehart

R. Turner Goins, Ph.D.

Turn Goins

Susan Abram, Ph.D.

Susan Abram


In the Cherokee syllabary, the characters above spell "study".
In the Cherokee syllabary, the characters above spell "study".


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