By Anna Fariello • Guest Editorial
In writing the text for an exhibition on Cherokee culture a few years ago, I began with this opening line, “Chances are, where you are standing is part of the Cherokee’s ancestral lands.” While, perhaps, I should have hesitated to make such a bold claim of an exhibit that was traveling throughout Western North Carolina, that statement was far from rash. Today, many think of Cherokee as a town at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, while in fact, Cherokee lands once extended to portions of eight modern states.
When The Smoky Mountain News asked me to write this guest editorial, I was in the midst of putting the finishing touches on a talk for Western Carolina University’s annual Native Expo (9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 12). The expo takes place every November to celebrate and share native cultures with students and the community. Events include talks, film, language, music, and art that celebrate indigenous culture as the university’s contribution to Native American Heritage Month. This year, among other events, the Hunter Library mounted a tribute to the late Robert J. Conley, a prolific and talented writer who served for three years as the university’s Distinguished Sequoya Professor.