EBCI wants mound or partnership for its protection
BY BRITTNEY PARKER
FRANKLIN, N.C. – The debate regarding the Nikwasi Indian Mound located in Franklin may soon see a resolution.
On March 3, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Michell Hicks spoke to the Franklin Town Aldermen in hopes of beginning talks regarding the preservation of the historic landmark.
“I have a simple request … obviously the Eastern Band feels, for many reasons, that the mound should be back in the name of the Eastern Band,” said Hicks. “I understand that may not be a simple task as it relates to the history of the mound and the responsibility of the town. One of the things that is important to us as a tribe is to make sure that we are at least part of the process of protecting these lands, these areas that are so rich from a spiritual and cultural perspective. I feel a true responsibility as a tribal leader. As requested by many of our tribal leaders, we want to do our best to do the right thing.”
Hicks cited the successful partnership that the EBCI has had with Macon County in the past regarding projects such as the Cowee School project and the Little Tennessee Watershed programs. He told the town that he hoped a similar partnership could be formed with Franklin to ensure the best interest of the Nikwasi Mound for all parties involved.
While Franklin and the EBCI have struggled over the town’s treatment of the mound since a pesticide was used on the landmark, killing the grass, Hicks assured the board that that issue was not his reason for attending Monday night’s meeting.
“I feel in my heart that we have a responsibility as a tribe to make this request,” said Hicks.
“It was a productive meeting. Chief Hicks was most gracious and I felt that after the meeting the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Franklin recognized that we each have a strong kinship to the mound,” said Franklin Mayor Bob Scott. “I came away from the meeting with the feeling that we will work this out mutually. I think everyone will benefit from a partnership if that is the way we decide to go. Both the town and the tribe have benefits for each other in this venture. Working together we will ensure that the mound remains protected for generations to come and that is the most important thing.”
While the tribe requested that ownership be returned to the EBCI, Hicks informed the town that if that were not possible, he would like to begin talks regarding a preservation agreement to ensure that all parties remain good stewards to the land.
Two other tribal members also spoke to the town board, urging the town to consider the cultural and spiritual significance the land has to the Cherokee Indians.
“It is childish to go back and forth about the ownership of the last,” said EBCI citizen Matthew Tooni. “In my opinion, I would like to see the mound returned to Cherokee hands, but I understand that may not be possible… I want to see the land preserved. What is to keep future generations who do not understand the importance and cultural significance, from bulldozing it? I don’t want to see that happen.”
Cherokee Nation citizen Tom Belt, who works at Western Carolina University in the Cherokee Language Program, pleaded with the board to consider the tribe’s “intrinsic spiritual and cultural value” in land that once housed his ancestors.
“Those vales are more than just something you can pass down, they mean so much more than that,” he said.
The board showed unanimous consent to arrange further discussion with Chief Hicks regarding a resolution that best suits both Franklin and the EBCI.
– REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION
Franklin, N. C. – ᏓᏂᏃᎮᏍᎬ ᏓᏂᏬᏂᏍᎬ ᎤᎬᏩᏟ Nikwasi ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎤᏙᏓᎸ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᎿ Franklin ᎡᎵᏊ ᎾᏞᎬ ᏙᏛᏄᎪᏔᎾ.
ᎠᏅᏱ 3rd, ᎧᎸᎬ ᎢᏗᏢ ᎠᏁᎯ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎤᎬᏫᏳᎯ Michell Hicks ᎤᏟᏃᎮᏔᏅ Franklin ᎦᏚᎲ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬ ᎨᎳ ᏗᎧᎾᏩᏛᏍᎩ ᏗᎬᏩᏃᏢᏗ ᎠᏂᏅᎢ ᎤᏚᎩ ᎤᏩᎭ ᎠᏓᎴᏂᏍᎬ ᏓᏂᏬᏂᏍᎬ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᎬᏩᏟ ᎠᎵᏏᏅᏙᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎬᎪᏩᏛᏗ.
“ᎠᎯᏓ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ ᏥᏔᏲᎯᎭ…… ᏙᎯᏳ ᎧᎸᎬ ᎠᏁᎯ ᎾᏁᎵ, ᎢᎸᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᏓᎴ ᎠᏓᏅᏖᏗᎢ, ᎤᎬᏩᏢ ᎤᏙᏓᎸ ᎤᎷᎯᏍᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎧᎸᎬ ᎠᏁᎯ ᏚᏙᏍᏙᏗᏱ,” ᎤᏛᏅ Hicks. “ᎪᎵᎩᏃ ᎯᎠ ᎠᎯᏓ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᎨᏒᎢ ᏩᏎᎯᎲ ᏗᎩᎶᏒᎢ ᎧᏃᎮᏍᎩ ᎤᏙᏓᎸ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎾᏚᏓᎸ ᎤᏂᏚᎲᎢ. ᏌᏊ ᎢᏳᏓᎴ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏙᎯᏳ ᎢᎦᏠᏯᏍᏙᏗ ᎯᎠ ᎠᏟᎢᎵᏙᎲ ᎠᏍᏕᎸᏗᎢ ᎯᎠ ᎤᏙᏢᏒᎢ, ᎯᎠ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎢᎦ ᎤᎪᏓ ᎦᎸᏉᏗ ᏄᎵᏍᏔᏅᏅ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎨᏒ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏂ. ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏛ ᎠᏯ ᎠᎩᎷᏤᎲ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏗᎦᏓᏘᏂᏙᎯ ᎨᏒ. ᏂᏚᎾᏓᏪᏎᎸ ᎤᏂᎪᏓ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏗᎾᏓᏘᏂᏙ, ᎣᎦᏚᎵ ᏫᏓᏤᎸ ᏲᎦᏛᏗ ᏚᏳᎪᏛᎢ.”
Hicks ᎤᏛᏅ ᎾᎿ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᏗᎵᎪᏗ ᎨᎲ EBCI ᎤᏂᎲ ᎠᏟᎢᎶᎯᎲ Macon ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏧᏟᎢᎸᏍᏔᏅᎢ ᏱᎧᏃᎮᏟ ᏯᏛᎾ Cowee ᏧᎾᏕᎶᏆᏍᏗ ᎤᎬᏩᏟ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏍᏗ ᏔᎾᏏ Watershed programs. ᏚᏃᎯᏎᎸ ᎤᏂᏚᎲ ᎤᏚᎩ ᎤᏩᎭ ᎤᏠᏯ ᏗᎵᎪᎯ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗᎢ ᎤᏙᏢᏗ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ Franklin ᏙᎯᏳ ᏬᏌᏂᏴ ᎤᏂᎪᏩᏛᏗ ᎾᎿ Nikwasi ᎤᏙᏓᎸᎢ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎠᏁᎳᏗᏙᎲᎢ.
ᎾᎯᎿᎢ Franklin ᎠᎴ EBCI ᏴᏓᎭ Ꮭ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏱᎨᏐ ᎾᎿ ᏂᎨᎬᏁᎲ ᎤᏂᏚᎲᎢ ᎾᎿᎾᎢ ᎤᏙᏓᎸᎢ ᏂᏓᎬᏩᏓᎴᏅᏓ ᏥᏍᎪᏯ ᏗᎯᏍᏗ ᏧᏅᏔᏅ ᎾᎿᎢ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ, ᎦᏄᎸ ᎤᏂᏝᎢ, Hick ᏚᏃᎯᏎᎸ ᎾᏍᎩᎾ ᎠᏂᎾ ᏧᏂᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎬᏩᏟ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎿ ᏧᎾᏑᎯᏍᏗ ᏙᏓᏉᏅ ᎤᏒᎢ.
“ᎦᏓᏅᏖᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏉᎯᏳ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏛ ᎢᎩᎲ ᎾᎿ ᎢᏗᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎨᏒ ᎣᎱᏍᏗ ᎢᎦᏓᎢ,Ꮰ ᎠᏗᏍᎬ Hicks.
“ᏙᎦᏠᏒ ᎤᏁᏉᏨ ᎨᏒᎢ. ᎤᎬᏫᏳᎯ Hicks ᎢᎦ ᎠᎵᎮᎵᎬ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏯ ᎾᏍᎩᏊ ᎤᏠᏯ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏛ ᏙᎦᏠᏐᏂ ᎾᎿ ᎧᎸᎬᎢᏗᏢ ᎠᏁᎯ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᎠᎴ Franklin ᎤᏕᎶᎰᏒ ᎾᎿ ᎣᏥᏏᏴᏫᎭ ᎤᏟᏂᎩᏓ ᏙᎦᏓᏂᏴᏛ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏙᏓᎸᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅ Franklin Mayor Bob Scott. “ᏛᎠᏆᏂᎩᏒ ᏙᎦᏠᏐᏂ ᎠᏆᏓᏅᏛ ᎾᎿ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎯᎠ ᏣᏟᎢᎵᏙ ᏂᏓᎦᎵᏍᏔᏅ ᎠᏇᎵᏒᎢ. ᎨᎵᎠ ᎾᏂᎥ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ ᎨᏎᏍᏗ ᏗᎵᎪᎯ ᎢᏳᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏙᏧᎪᏔᏅᎢ. ᎢᏧᎳ ᎦᏚᎲ ᎠᎴ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᏓᏳᎾᏠᏯᏍᏔᏂ ᎠᎾᏁᎶᏗᏍᎬ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗᎢ. ᏗᎵᏍᏕᎸᏗ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏙᏓᎸ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᎤᏙᏢᏒ ᎢᎦᎦᏎᏍᏕᏍᏗ ᎪᎯᏓ ᏕᏓᏓᏁᏟᏴᏎᎬᎢ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏭᎵᏍᎨᏗᏴᎢ.”
ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎤᏂᏔᏲᏢ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏤᎵ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏫᏙᎠᏁᏗ EBCI, Hicks ᏚᏃᎯᏎᎸ ᎤᏂᏚᎲ ᎢᏳᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᏱᎩ, ᏳᏚᎳ ᎤᎴᏅᏗ ᎤᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᎵᏏᏅᏙᏗ ᎤᎬᏩᏟ ᏗᏓᏙᎵᏤᏗ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎣᏍᏓ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎤᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎦᏓ ᎠᎲᎢ.
ᏔᎵ ᏐᎢ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎠᏁᎳ ᎾᏍᏊ ᏭᏬᏂᏒ ᎦᏚᎲ ᏗᏄᎪᏔᏂᏙ ᎠᏂᎾ, ᏓᎾᏟᎬᎮᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏂᏚᎲ ᎾᎿ ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎦᎸᏉᏗ ᎤᏰᎸᏗ ᎾᎿ ᎦᏙ ᎠᎲ ᎾᎿ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ.
“ᏗᏂᏲᏟᏊ ᎤᏠᏯ ᏗᏘᏲᏍᏗᏊ ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᏱᏂᎦᎵᏍᏗᎭ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏤᎵᎪᎯ ᎨᏒ ᎣᏂᎢ,” ᎠᎾᏗᏍᎬ EBCI ᎨᎳ Matthew Tooni. “ᎠᏯ ᎨᎵᏍᎬ ᏯᏆᏚᎵ ᎠᎩᎪᏩᏛᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎦᏓ ᎤᏙᏓᎸᎢ ᏭᎷᎯᏍᏗ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩᎢ, ᎠᏎᏃ ᎪᎵᎦᏍᏊ ᎢᎬᏩᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᏂᎨᏒᎾ ᎨᏒ…… ᎠᏆᏚᎵ ᎯᎠ ᎦᏙ ᎠᎵᏏᏅᏙᏗᎢ. ᎦᏙᎲ ᏳᏂᎭ ᎤᏩᎦᏗᏗᏒ ᏥᏛᎾᎢ ᎤᏅᏙᏗ ᎾᏃᎵᎬᎾ ᏱᎩ ᏄᎵᏍᎨᏗᏴᎢ, Ꭰ. ᏭᏂᏌᏙᏯᏍᏗᏊ? Ꮭ ᏯᏆᏚᎵ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗᎢ.”
ᏣᎳᎩ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎨᎳ Tom Belt, ᎾᏍᎩ ᏧᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᎯ Western Carolina University ᎾᎿ ᏣᎳᎩ ᎦᏬᏂᎯᏍᏗ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᎯ, ᏚᏍᏗᏱᏔᏅ ᏗᏅᎪᏔᏂᏙ ᎠᏂᏅᎢ ᎤᎾᏓᏅᏖᏗ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎦᎸᏉᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎾᏍᎩ ᎢᏳᎾᏛᏁᎵᏓᏍᏗ ᏧᎬᏩᎶᏗᏳ ᎨᏒᎢ” ᎾᎿ ᎦᏙᎯ ᎪᎯᎩ ᏥᎨᏒ ᏧᎦᏴᎵᎨ ᏄᎾᏛᏁᎢ.
“ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏓ ᎾᏃ ᏣᎮᏍᏗ ᎪᏎᏗ ᎩᎶᎢ, ᎤᎵᏍᎨᏛ ᏂᎬᏃ ᎾᏍᎩ ᏄᏍᏛᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏅ.
ᏗᏄᎪᏔᏂᏙ ᎠᏂᎾ ᎬᏂᎨᏒ ᏄᏅᏁᎸ ᏂᎦᏓ ᎤᏂᏃᎮᏗ ᎤᏩᎦᏗᏗᏒᎢ ᎾᎿ ᎤᎬᏫᏳᎯ Hicks ᏧᏄᎪᏔᏂᏓᏍᏗ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗ ᎢᏧᎳ Franklin ᎠᎴ EBCI.