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Rooted in the Mountains

A poster depicting natural elements representing the rooted in the mountains.


The 12th Annual Rooted in the Mountains Symposium will occur Thursday and Friday, September 23 and 24, 2021.

Theme: Seeding Sovereignty: Sustainable Agriculture, Sustaining Culture & Health

Rooted in the mountains is designed to raise awareness of health and environmental consequences of mountaintop removal. Participants will go away with a new sense of urgency and tools to use in valuing our common ground.

Meeting to be held at the Blue Ridge Conference Room on Main Campus. Masks are required for attendance.

Early Registration Fee $75.00

Late Registration after September 1st 2021 is $125.00

There is no available overnight lodging on campus. A limited number of rooms have been reserved at the Comfort Inn in Sylva for the symposium. Other lodging may be available in nearby Sylva or Dillsboro. For a listing, please visit

Registration 8:30
Welcome and Announcements 9:00
Introduction of Theme - Dr. Tom Belt (Cherokee)
Sowing Seeds of Sovereignty: Food Sustainability & Health
Break 10:15 - 10:30
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Clint Carroll (Cherokee Nation) 10:30 -11:30
Lunch (on your own) 11:30 -1:00
Local Food and Nutrition: Utilizing Ancient Food Practices to Address Modern Chronic Disease
For thousands of years the Cherokee people lived off the land and sourced their food from the earth. In modern times, however, processed food, and lack of availability of local and whole foods, has contributed to our current obesity and diabetes epidemics.  Come learn from our panelists about ancient food practices and nutrition, such as the "Three Sisters" triad of squash, corn, and beans, and how they can be utilized to improve physical and spiritual wellness for all.

Panelists: Melissa Lewis, Ph.D. (Cherokee Nation) Assist. Prof. of Family and Community Medicine at University of Missouri School of Medicine
Courtney Lewis, Ph.D., (Cherokee Nation) Duke University
Jaquetta Shade-Johnson, University of Missouri

1:00- 2:00
EBCI: Using Language and Culture to Promote Nutrition and Health

Several Tribal agencies worked together to create Cherokee My Plate Videos. These videos promote important nutritional and food information through Cherokee language and culture.

Panelists: Aneva Hagburg, Garfield Long, Rose James, RN
2:00- 3:00
Break 3:00 – 3:15

Incorporation of Traditional Foods for Chronic Disease Prevention
Participants will explore traditional Cherokee foods and food ways, including gathering, growing, processing and storing; looking at the continuity of traditions into the future. We will look at the nutritional value of these foods and health implications and how we weave culture into evidence-based practices to develop programming for chronic disease prevention.


  1. Increase knowledge of health disparities among the EBCI communities
  2. Better understanding of traditional foods and food ways
  3. Incorporating Cherokee culture into evidence-based practices for chronic disease prevention

Panelists: Robin Bailey-Callahan, MHS, RD, LDN, Program Director, Cherokee Choices And Nurse Family Partnership, EBCI
Hawk Brown (EBCI) Cultural Specialist for Cherokee Choices Program
Onita Bush (EBCI) Snowbird Community Elder

3:15 – 4:30

Discussions Q&A for the Day’s topics


Traditional Cherokee Supper provided by NIAWA @ Star Gallery

Registration 8:30

Importance of Traditional Agricultural Methods of the Cherokee People
Dr. Tom Belt (Cherokee), Johi Griffiin (EBCI), Beau Carroll (EBCI)

Break 10:30

Wild Plants, Lost Crops, and Resilient Agriculture in Ancient Appalachia

Participants discuss the archaeological history of Native people’s use of plant foods, from foraging to farming, in the Southern Appalachians, and how it ties into current efforts in sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty.

Panelists: Dr. Kandace Hollenback, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Gabrielle Purcell, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Dr. Stephen Carmody, Troy University

11:00 - 12:00
Lunch (on your own) 12:00 -1:30

Representing Indigenous Foods, Creativity, and Wellbeing in Appalachia
In this panel presentation Professor of English Erica Abrams Locklear will discuss indigenous foods that have come to represent stereotypical ideas of Appalachia as monolithically white and impoverished. Ramps and corn are just two examples of a larger trend that deserves more attention as mountain food gains culinary recognition nationwide. Poet and Associate Professor of Spanish, Juan Sanchez Martinez, will read poems and creative work inspired by some of these indigenous foods. Ameena Batada, Professor of Health and Wellness, will discuss research on wellbeing and food practices and sovereignty.

Panelists: Erica Abrams Locklear, Juan Sanchez Martinez, and Ameena Batada

1:30- 2:30

Settler-Colonialism on the March: American Chestnuts, GMOs, and the Eastern Cherokee
Come explore various biological, cultural, ethical, legal, moral, and other complex dimensions of the possible introduction of GMO Chestnut Trees on Qualla Boundary. 

Panelists: Dr. Donald Davis, Appalachian environmental historian and author of the forthcoming magnum opus on the American Chestnut (University of Georgia press Fall 2021) The American Chestnut: An Environmental History and the classic award-winning Where There Are Mountains: An Environmental History of the Southern Appalachians.
BJ McManama, Save Our Roots campaign organizer, Indigenous Environmental Network
Dr. Marti Crouch, retired scientist, Center for Food Safety
Mary Crowe, former EBCI Tribal Council Member and co-founder, Eastern Cherokee Defense League

rganizer: Dr. Jim Veteto, Assoc. Prof. of Anthropology, Ethnobotany, and Cherokee Studies, Western Carolina University

2:30- 3:30
Wrap up and Facilitated Discussion 3:30 – 4:30
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