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Brett Riggs - Western Carolina University. Cullowhee, NC, US

Brett Riggs

Professor | Western Carolina University


A research archaeologist, Brett Riggs is a former deputy tribal historical preservation officer for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.



Brett Riggs Publication Brett Riggs Publication



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Dr. Brett Riggs - Natchez Tribe Among the Cherokee Nation. Dr  Brett Riggs - Creeks Removal Amoung the Cherokee Nation Dr. Brett Riggs - Removal and Ressistance in North Carolina




A research archaeologist at UNC-CH since 2001, he worked previously as deputy tribal historical preservation officer for the Eastern Band. Riggs has an extensive list of publications and reports credits and has presented at numerous professional meetings and conferences. A board member for Friends of Junaluska and the Junaluska Museum, he also serves as executive board member for the National Trail of Tears Association in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was Native Affairs Liaison Committee chair for the southeastern Archaeological Conference. Riggs earned his doctorate and master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Tennessee and his bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Wake Forest University.

Industry Expertise (3)

Writing and Editing



Areas of Expertise (5)

Landscape Archaeology

Prehistoric Archaeology

Cultural Heritage


Protection Of Cultural Heritage

Education (3)

University of Tennessee Knoxville: M.A., Anthropology

Wake Forest University: B.A., Anthropology

University of Tennessee Knoxville: Ph.D.

Affiliations (2)

  • Friends of Junaluska and the Junaluska Museum
  • National Trail of Tears Association in Little Rock, Arkansas

Languages (1)

  • English

Media Appearances (5)

Cherokee fight to save language from extinction

Mountain Xpress  online


“Non-Cherokee Americans [need] to understand that the crises in language and cultural preservation are created by our governmental policies,” says Brett Riggs, a professor of Cherokee studies at WCU. “It was policy to transform Indigenous people to conform to the cultural norms of dominant Western society, and Indigenous languages were devalued and discouraged.”

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Cherokee Studies Program’s endowed scholarship renamed for T.J. Holland

WCU Stories  online


Brett Riggs, WCU’s Sequoyah Distinguished Professor of Cherokee Studies, described Holland as the bridge between the Eastern Band and the university, the “person who translated academia for his Cherokee community and constituency, and who brought understanding of the perspectives of his community to the academy.”

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WCU professor receives Cherokee honor

Smoky Mountain News  online


Brett Riggs, Sequoyah Distinguished Professor of Cherokee Studies at Western Carolina University, has received the 2016 Cherokee National Worcester Award for his efforts to preserve Cherokee culture.

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Archeology students dig into Cherokee history

Smoky Mountain News  online


Over the summer, 16 students from Western Carolina University — led by Dr. Brett Riggs, Dr. Jane Eastman and field assistant Karen Biggert — drove each weekday from Cullowhee to Franklin to spend more than four hot, sticky weeks outdoors. Their mission? To apply scientific techniques to discover archaeological evidence on Mainspring’s Watauga Mound property, and learn more about what northern Macon County looked like hundreds of years ago.

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UNC-CH archaeologist appointed WCU’s Sequoyah Professor of Cherokee Studies

The Cherokee One Feather  online


Brett H. Riggs, a research archaeologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has worked with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on various projects since the early 1990s, will become the new Sequoyah Distinguished Professor of Cherokee Studies at Western Carolina University.

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Articles (2)

Glimpses of a Nearby Nation: The Making of Catawba Pottery with Georgia Harris and Edith Harris Brown

Southern Cultures

2008 Like their ancestors for thousands of years, Catawba potters of the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries have continued to adapt their material traditions to ever-changing modern contexts. In the process, they create remarkably contemporary works of visual and tactile art.

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Temporal Trends in Native Ceramic Traditions of the Lower Catawba River Valley

Southeastern Archaeology

2010 Bennie Keel’s 1972 work at Upper Sauratown was the opening salvo of the Research Laboratories of Archaeology’s 30-year Siouan Project, which continues under the guise of the ongoing Catawba Project. Keel’s early work at the protohistoric Hardins and early historic era Belk Farm sites in the Catawba River Valley continues to inform the current phase of Piedmont Siouan research.

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