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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 29 and 30, 2022.

Theme: “Nv wa tohi ya da a de hi di yi” Living in a Continued State of Wellness

Meeting to be held at the Blue Ridge Conference Room on Main Campus. 

Early Registration Fee $75.00

Late Registration after September 2nd 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

Dean of CHHS, Dr. Lori Anderson,
Mae Claxton, Professor, English Dept. WCU
Cherokee Song by Regina Arkansas Swimmer (EBCI)

Introduction of Theme - Dr. Tom Belt (Cherokee)
“Nv wa tohi ya da a de hi di yi”: Living in a Continued State of Wellness
Break 10:15 - 10:30

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Ann Bullock (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe/Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa)

“Stress, Trauma, and the Early Roots of Health”

10:30 -11:30
Lunch (on your own) 11:30 -1:00

Panel - Robin Callahan (organizer)

Interventions for Wellness: Mind, Body, and Spirit
Resources for Resilience: Training for the community that
are trauma-informed and resiliency-focuses, that offer
practical strategies to promote balance and well-being for a
a Tribal community.
EBCI Nurse Family Partnership: The role of the nurse-client
connection and benefits for mental health and overall well-being. We will explore: 1. NFP Model Elements, 2. Motivational
Interviewing, and 3. Cultural Connection
Mindfulness Based Programming: A review of Mindfulness
Based Programming for EBCI youth and adults, including
Yoga, tai chi, Spiritual Warriors summer camp/after-school
Program, and the utilization of Cherokee traditions and
Language throughout.
Panelists: Robin Callahan, Yo Saunooke, Keahana Lambert-

1:00- 2:00

Panel - Betsy Aspinwall (organizer)

Healing the Soul Wound: Exploring Decolonization Through the Medicine Wheel
In this seminar, panelists seek to provide an overview of the ways colonization has impacted Native Americans’ lived experiences. This will be explored through the lens of the medicine wheel and presenters will discuss ways people might engage in healing of their mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional selves through the process of decolonization.
Panelists: Megan Smith, PhD (EBCI) and Calista Colbert, MA, LCMHCA, NCC (PBCI)

2:00- 3:00
Break 3:00 – 3:15

Panel - Jessica Cory (organizer)
Appalachian Mental Health Reflected in Literature

This panel will be a presentation and discussion of the intersections between mental health, creative writing, and teaching. Each will share how mental health influences their work, how they teach, and how they navigate the roles of teacher and writer.
Panelists: Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle (EBCI) , novelist and English teacher Benjamin Cutler (poet and Creative Writing teacher), and Emily Brier (Appalachian poet and Creative Writing instructor) Discussion and Q&A moderated by Jessica Cory.

3:15 – 4:30

Discussions Q&A for the Day’s topics


Installation of Cherokee Water Feature - Reception
College of Health and Human Sciences Building

Registration 8:30
Welcome and Announcements 8:55

Movie about Muscogee Language Revitalization Center


Panel - Melissa Lewis (organizer)

Indigenous Languages and Health

It is no coincidence that increased mental health distress amongst Indigenous people has tracked the loss of cultural practices. Through an Indigenous holistic lens, when there is dysfunction on one domain, such as mental health, this is a sign of dysfunction within the larger societal system. Indigenous language and cultural lifeways, as well as academic research has demonstrated that Indigenous language use relates to improved mental and physical health of Indigenous peoples.

Language is Medicine. This panel will illuminate the power of Indigenous language to provide insight and solutions to mental health distress amongst Indigenous communities. Examples of Indigenous cultural and language revitalization will also be presented.

Panelists: Tom Belt (Cherokee Nation): Describe Cherokee words for depression, anxiety, historical trauma; Describe mental health improvement in language learners given Cherokee worldview. CLMAP student (Cherokee Nation): Describe their mental health improvement during CLMAP program Marcus Briggs-Cloud (Muscogee): Describe a land-place-culture-language revitalization program and health improvements among residents


Panel - Melissa Lewis (organizer)

Health improvements in the data

This panel will describe the state of the literature around Indigenous language use and health status.

Panelists: Doug Whalen: Systematic review of Indigenous language use and health status, Daryl Baldwin (Miami): Health effects of language and cultural program for college students, Melissa Lewis (Cherokee Nation): Focus group results around health effects of adult Cherokee language learning program

  • Evgeline Yazzie UA-hanta virus only bothering native people. Aunt always knew about it and took precautions but people didn’t do it anymore. Aunt lived in Hogan, dirt floors. Didn’t clean bottom of shoes. Only two dresses and where them-don’t bring shoes inside. You can only gather pinon nuts until the first snow, can’t come in the house. Buried pans in sand. From deer mice.
  • Cherokee origin of disease
  • Story of snake, they took away, prophecy of white people. Started
    dancing and kept everybody away, tried to kill it but scales of
    steel, taking over everything. Boy saw space underneath scale
    and shoot arrow to kill it.
  • Listen to children they have better since than we do. Elders said. Theycan see better, not contaminated.
11:00 - 12:00
Lunch at Mountain Heritage Center w/ discussion about Federal Indian Boarding Schools Exhibit with Roseanna Belt (EBCI) and Sarah Sneed (EBCI) 12:00 - 2:00

Panel - Dr. Tonya Westbrook (organizer)

Health and Mental Health Issues in Indian Country: Perspectives from the Front Lines.
Participants in this panel will discuss Indigenous research regarding
behavioral and environmental health, addressing self-mutilation as a
manifestation of historic and multi-generational trauma, and a medical doctor
and senior administrator for the Indian Health Service who has dedicated his
career to Native health issues.

Panelists: Dr. Jada Brooks (Lumbee) UNC-CH School of Nursing, Tashina Pheasant Kalonaheskie (EBCI) PHHS, Dr. Michael Toedt (Indian Health Service)

2:30 - 3:30

Discussion and Reflections

4:00- 4:30
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