An advantage to living in Northwest Georgia is the vast amount of local history the region holds, including that of the native peoples of the area. In a program sponsored by Dalton State College’s Bandy Heritage Center, Cherokee educator and lecturer Diamond Go-Sti will lead two free seminars on the diversity of Cherokee life and culture on Thursday, March 13.
Diamond’s two-part program, entitled “Touch the Earth: Cherokee Myths, Traditions, and Culture,” will take place in Room 105 of The James E. Brown Center on the Dalton State campus. The first lecture will take place from 10:30 am to 12 pm, and will focus on Cherokee myth cycles and oral tradition. The second lecture, wherein Diamond will discuss the symbolism of artifacts and their relationship to Cherokee life and beliefs, will take place from 2 to 3:30 pm.
Diamond Go-Sti is a full blood Cherokee who has devoted his life to educating others about his culture and heritage. Born and raised on a portion of the Cherokee reservations in North Carolina, he travels around the United States to share his knowledge of the Cherokee as a storyteller, educator, and historian.
“To truly understand the historical legacy of our region one has to gain an understanding of the lives and culture of those that lived here before us,” says Brian Hilliard, Project Director for the Bandy Center. “So many of the things we encounter in the course of our daily lives, such as the names of rivers, mountains, cities, and counties come directly from the Cherokee people that inhabited this region, but we may not be aware of their significance.”
Diamond has been involved in musical and theatrical productions, documentaries, and films, most notably the “Georgia Stories” video series shown to all eighth grade students in the state. He has also been the subject of numerous works of art, including paintings, collections of photographs, and a six-foot bronze statue in the courthouse square of Dahlonega, Georgia. He was formerly involved in politics concerning the Cherokee, but realized his true calling in life was to spread the word about his native culture.
“Diamond presents a much more accurate historical view of the indigenous people in America, particularly the Cherokee, and he also discusses a great deal about myths and stereotypes related to native people,” says Ryan Reece, Assistant Professor of English at Dalton State. Reece welcomed Diamond Go-Sti into his classroom in December to discuss several points of contrast related to how native people are represented in the landscape of American literature.
“He generally challenges what we think we know about his people and re-educates where appropriate to correct many incorrect views presented in film, television, books, and classrooms,” Reece continues.
In 1992, Diamond Go-Sti became a full-time Cherokee educator, and has since created an educational field trip program called “Touch the Earth with Native People.” When he is not teaching in the Atlanta area or traveling across the U.S., Diamond, along with several other Native American artists, uses the program to inform children of the rich legacy of the native peoples of this country by presenting stories, art, music, dances and artifacts.
“By learning more about the people of the past we can make connections to our modern lives and bridge the gap between cultures that appear totally foreign to us, but actually contain more common ground than we may expect,” says Hilliard.
This seminar is hosted by the Bandy Heritage Center for Northwest Georgia and is made possible through a Foundation grant to the Dalton State School of Liberal Arts. Diamond Go-Sti will present his first lecture from 10:30 am to 12 pm, and the second lecture from 2 to 3:30 pm. Both lectures are free and open to the public, and will take place in Room 105 of The James E. Brown Center on the Dalton State Campus. Seating is first-come, first-served.