Cherokee Studies Experts

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

Roseanne Belt


Roseanna S. Belt, Director of the Western Carolina University Cherokee Center
Camp Building 138 - Monday & Friday
Cherokee Center - Tuesday-Thursday

Born in Cherokee, N.C., and an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), Belt has Bbeen 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.

Tom Belt


Tom Belt, Cherokee Language Program Coordinator
McKee 105A

Tom 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
McKee 222C

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.

Dr. Jane Eastman, Associate Professor of Anthropology
McKee G03C

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.

Anna Fariello, Associate Professor, Retired

Anna Fariello, retired associate professor and head of Hunter Library's Digital Initiatives Program, 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 .

Dr. Lisa J. Lefler, Visiting Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of Culturally Based Native Health Programs, College of Health & Human Sciences WCU
Heath & Human Sciences Building 448

Dr. 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.

Dr. Anne Rogers, Professor of Anthropology, Retired
McKee G10B

Dr. 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.

Rebecca Lasher, Ph.D - Assistant Professor of Social Work
Health and Human Sciences 314

Sara Snyder, Ph.D, Visiting Assistant Professor, Cherokee Language Program
McKee 105C

Sara finished her PhD. in ethnomusicology from Columbia University this year (2016). She spent five years working for the Kituwah Preservation and Education Program as the music and arts teacher for New Kituwah Academy, the Eastern Cherokee language immersion school. This work was the subject of her doctoral dissertation, Poetics, Performance, and Translation in Eastern Cherokee Language Revitalization. At WCU, Sara is teaching Cherokee language classes and linguistic anthropology. She is also leading a Cherokee language repertory choir that is open to everyone. Sara also plays trumpet and sings with community groups throughout the WNC region.

Benjamin A. Steere, Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Director of Cherokee Studies
McKee G03A

Dr. Ben Steere earned his B.A. from Wake Forest University in 2003 and his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia in 2011. He has conducted archaeological fieldwork and research in western North Carolina since 2004. He has recently worked on a collaborative archaeological research project with the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of The Eastern Band of Cherokee to locate and map mound and village sites in western North Carolina. Some of his other areas of interest include the archaeology of domestic and monumental architecture, indigenous archaeology, and public archaeology. In 2015 he was delighted to join the faculty at Western Carolina University, where continues his research on Cherokee archaeology.

Brett Riggs, Ph.D., Sequoyah Distinguished Professor

Jim Veteto, Ph.D., Assistant Professof of Anthropology
McKee 106A

James Veteto is an environmental anthropologist specializing in ethnoecology, political ecology, sustainable agriculture, and climate change. He has done research with homegardeners and farmers among both the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and the Cherokee Nation, documenting agricultural biodiversity and plant conservation initiatives. He serves as a consultant to the Center for Cherokee Plants. Dr. Veteto's current applied, collaborative research project involves interviewing members of the EBCI who work closely with the land to document their observations of environmental changes and incorporating that information into several tribal environmental programs.

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

Janina C. DeHart, M.S., Mentoring and Persistence to Success (MAPS) Program
Killian Annex 141

R. Turner Goins, Ph.D., Ambassador Jeanette W. Hyde Endowed Professor of Gerontological Social Work
Health and Human Sciences 316

Dr Turner Goins has been working collaboratively with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians since 1999 in the area of gerontological health. She currently has grant funding for a project with the tribe and will continue to seek additional funding to support her work with EBC.

Susan Abram, Ph.D., Visiting Faculty, History Department
McKee 228

Susan M. Abram received her Ph.D. from Auburn University in 2009 where she majored in Early American History with minor fields in Modern World History (colonization/decolonization) and Modern American History. Her breadth field is in Anthropology. Abram's forthcoming book is The Forging of a Cherokee-American Alliance in the Creek War: From its Creation to its Betrayal by the University of Alabama Press.
Abram has contributed a chapter, "The Cherokees in the Creek War," in The Creek War and The War of 1812 in Alabama, ed. Kathryn H. Braund, by the University of Alabama Press. In addition, "The Cherokee Beloved Occupation: Warfare, Gender, and Community," appears in New Men: Essays on Manliness in Early America, ed. Thomas A. Foster, by New York University Press. Her article "Cherokee Alliance with the United States in the Creek War, 1813-1814" won the Walter Durham Award for the best article in 2012 in the War of 1812 Bicentennial Issue of Tennessee Historical Quarterly. Abram, the current secretary of the North Carolina Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association, is the chair/organizer of the 175th Year since the Trail of Tears Commemorative Symposium and Trail Pilgrimage to be held in November in Cherokee, NC.

Patricia Morse, PhD. LCSW, Professor and Department Head of Social Work
Health and Human Sciences 322A

Dr. Morse has worked collaboratively with members of the Cherokee Studies Program and members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in her capacity as the Head of the Department of Social Work and the Masters of Social Work (MSW) Program Director and through her scholarship. Students in her department have provided many hours of service through undergraduate and graduate Social Work internships at EBCI Public Health and Human Services agencies such as Analenisgi, Tsali Care. Cherokee Indian Hospital, and FamilySafety as well as the Cherokee Schools.

Josie Crolley-Simic, PhD, MSW,
Undergraduate Program Director, Social Work Department

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