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MHC Presents Signed Agreements to Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Officials from Mars Hill College present copies of a signed agreement in both English and Cherokee to officials of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Pictured is: (l-r) Tate McCoy, EBCI Education and Training program manager; Leo James, MHC trustee; Rachel Mathis, EBCI education supervisor, and Dr. Dan Lunsford, president of MHC.
Representatives from Mars Hill College and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) met June 4 in Cherokee for a ceremony commemorating a continuing cooperative relationship between the two organizations.
Dr. Dan Lunsford, president of Mars Hill College, and Leo James, college trustee, presented EBCI officials with two framed copies of an agreement signed between the organizations last year. One agreement was in English; one was in Cherokee. Two additional copies of the agreement – in both English and Cherokee – hang in the administration building of Mars Hill College.
Representing the EBCI at the June 4 ceremony was Tate McCoy, EBCI Education and Training program manager and Rachel Mathis, EBCI education supervisor.
Michell Hicks, Principal Chief of EBCI, and Lunsford originally signed the agreement in February of 2011, which calls for the tribe to take an active role in continuing to provide advice and consultation for various historic events and presentations at the college. It also calls for a cooperative effort to provide comprehensive scholarship funds for all members of the Tribe who qualify academically, and who choose to attend Mars Hill College.
Per the agreement, Mars Hill will provide scholarship funds for one year for the first two members of the tribe who commit to attend the college. The EBCI will provide scholarship funds for those students’ remaining three years, as well as any scholarship funds needed for additional members of the tribe who choose to attend Mars Hill.
According to Lunsford, the agreement honors Mars Hill’s commitment to diversity among the student body, as well as engagement in the region. That commitment has long included connections which celebrate all aspects of southern Appalachian heritage, he said.
“Our Cherokee heritage is such an important part of who we are here in the Southern Appalachians. Mars Hill College has a long-standing commitment to preserving the dance and song traditions of our European ancestors, as well as the culture and traditions of the oldest part of our heritage, relating to the Cherokee people,” he said.
“Our students have long benefited from guest lecturers, presenters and performers who were members of the Cherokee tribe,” Lunsford said. “This agreement is a continuation of the relationship we have always enjoyed, and an affirmation that we will continue to work together for all our students, of all backgrounds.”