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University Honors Native American Storyteller

Western Carolina University honors Native American storyteller for preserving history.

He learned his first legends from his two storytelling uncles and told stories at the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Now, Native American storyteller Lloyd Arneach has been honored by Western Carolina University (WCU), in Cullowhee, North Carolina.

“The university bestows Mountain Heritage Awards each year on one individual and one organization in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the preservation or interpretation of the history and culture of Southern Appalachia,” according to

And Arneach has many Cherokee stories to tell. “Lloyd's stories range from the ‘old stories’ of the Cherokee to contemporary stories he has collected; from creation stories to behind the scenes of Dances with Wolves. He tells stories of different Native Americans: Floyd Red Crow Westerman; Billy Mills, an Olympic champion; a young Cree Indian girl with no stories to tell; and a postmaster on the Papago Reservation,” reads his biography at

The organization honored by WCU was the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center, a nonprofit dedicated to restoring Stecoah Union School, which opened in 1926 and closed in 1994. According to, the name Stecoah comes from the Cherokee term usdi gohi, meaning “little place.”

WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher presented the recipients the Mountain Heritage Awards to both winners on September 24 during the 37th Annual Mountain Heritage Day festival.