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102nd Annual Convention Speaker

We are thrilled to share that our keynote speaker will be renowned Cherokee scholar Mr. Thomas Belt. Mr. Belt retired in 2018 as coordinator of Wester Carolina University’s Cherokee Language Program. His work to preserve and revitalize the Cherokee language and traditional culture have had profound significance, not only for the region, but the nation as well. As a teacher and scholar at WCU, he developed vital materials for teaching Cherokee language and prepared multiple cohorts of students to read, speak and teach Cherokee language themselves. Mr. Belt has worked closely with the American Philosophical Society and the Smithsonian Institution to develop and enact protocols for the treatment of Cherokee archival materials, in particular culturally sensitive materials in the Cherokee language. He also served as a consultant to multiple university programs, providing regular addresses and workshops at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Stanford, Yale, Duke and Wake Forest regarding the importance and significance of indigenous languages and the worldview of Cherokee culture.

Tom was raised in a Cherokee-speaking family in Rocky Ford, Oklahoma. He later moved to the Eastern homelands in the early 1990s. He continues to live on the Qualla Boundary of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians where he first worked as a teacher in the Cherokee Central Schools.

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