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Speaker Series at Laughing Waters Retreat: Cross Cultural Understanding and the Landscape

June 22 @ 10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Date: June 22, 2024

Time: 10:30 a.m.

Location: Laughing Waters Retreat – in the orchard

Speaker: Elaine Eisenbraun, Executive Director of the Nikwasi Initiative, and Kirstie Frady, Enrolled Member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI)

People have lived on, learned from, and altered this extraordinary landscape for millennia. Noquisi Initiative invites people to cross the bridge between Cherokee heritage and today’s society.  How does the scenery out our window, the stories we tell, even the language we speak bring us together as people and with our homeland. How can we incorporate Cherokee wisdom into our approach to the land and each other? What can we offer in return? This presentation will share the interplay between people and place and how it is influenced by our own experience.

Elaine Eisenbraun guides Noquisi Initiative in its mission to ‘preserve, protect, and promote culture and history in the original homelands of the Cherokee. This is Elaine’s fourth executive directorship and she sees this organization as the one that can have the greatest impact on place-based understanding of diverse cultures. Elaine’s undergraduate work was in forest management, which led to several years of working in the woods for industry, government and consulting. She believes that her years working in the woods was where she learned to see relationships that tend to elude the eye. After drifting toward environmental education, Elaine directed organizations in Vermont and Oregon. She taught communities to be “community focused and landscape reflected.” In a short detour, Elaine founded and led an organization that brought fine art to critically ill children. Then she came to western North Carolina to combine her skills in landscape awareness, community development, art, and outreach. Together, her experience and Master of Science degree in Leadership and Management helps her embrace the tasks that unfold every day within Noquisi Initiative. Sometime, ask her about her fun work in such diverse fields as: avalanche study, equipment operation, textiles, fire fighting, wildlife management and more.

Kirstie is a recent graduate of the Dadiwonisi Cherokee Language and Heritage program for enrolled Tribal members.  She has worked as a Cherokee language transcriber.  Kirstie now works for Noquisi Initiative and attends college seeking a degree in Human Services. She is a traditional basket weaver and lives in Robbinsville (Snowbird) with her husband and 6 children.

​The Nikwasi Initiative was founded to promote, interpret and link cultural and historic sites (such as the Noquisiyi and Cowee mounds) along a Cherokee Cultural Corridor, along with raising awareness and funds to pursue those efforts and exploring more opportunities for collaboration between the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and local communities. 

Guests will park in the orchard at Laughing Waters Retreat, accessed from the address below, and walk up a little hill and gravel driveway to the pavilion.  If anyone has mobility challenges, there is the opportunity to be dropped off closer to the pavilion.

Programs at Laughing Waters Retreat Center are made possible thanks to our partnership with Laughing Waters Retreat Center. For more information about Laughing Waters Retreat Center, visit laughingwatersnc.com.


June 22
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
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Laughing Waters Retreat – orchard
3259 Gerton Highway
Gerton, NC 28735 United States
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