The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday March 3rd

Letter: Musings from a field trip to Cherokee, N.C.


Ben Frey, the American studies professor who runs the Cherokee language program on campus, took a small group of Cherokee-language students up to the reservation in western North Carolina for the 104th annual Cherokee Indian Fair.

Besides visiting the fair, the trip took us to Judaculla rock (an ancient inscription engraved on a large boulder), Nikwasi (a historical Cherokee town off the reservation), Oconaluftee Islands Park (a park in the center of town) and many other important places in the area.

One especially important part of the trip was a visit to Kituwah, the ancient town believed to be the place of origin for the Cherokee people.

We visited it with Tom Belt, a Cherokee professor at Western Carolina University, who gave a heartfelt address on the importance of the place.

We participated in a class at the Cherokee-language elementary school, New Kituwah Academy. Also, we were able to see a stickball game between the Wolf Clan and Big Cove.

The group was small, only six students, but this gave the trip an intimacy that allowed us to have many important conversations about Cherokee heritage, linguistics, race, colonialism and modern Cherokee society that we could not have had with a larger group.

Alex Haggis



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