Rooted in the Mountains symposium coming to WCU

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.

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 go to or call 828.227.7397.

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