Tribe opposes Substation at Kituwah Site
By Scott Mckie
the Mother Town of the Cherokee, is in danger according to
many tribal members who are opposing the construction of a
Duke Energy Substation near the site. Tribal Council passed
a resolution during their regular session on Thursday, Feb.
4 denouncing the construction plans.
"Kituwah is the most important sacred site to the Cherokee
people, and it is amazing that it remains intact into the
21st Century," said Principal Chief Michell Hicks who
submitted the resolution. "We purchased the site for the
sole purpose of ensuring protection for future generations
of Cherokees and it is our responsibility, as a Nation, to
continue that work. We have a positive relationship with
Duke Energy and with Swain County and I feel confident we
can reach an amicable solution once we have an opportunity
to formally consult with Duke Energy on this important
Paige Layne, Duke spokesperson, commented on Monday, Feb. 8,
"We have a long standing and good working relationship with
the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and I think it's built
on mutual respect. Ultimately, we want to work with the
Tribe to expand our energy offerings to them in a way that
is culturally sensitive."
The resolution passed by Tribal Council on Thursday states,
"It is this Tribe's solemn responsibility and moral duty to
care for and protect all of Kituwah from further desecration
and degradation by human agency in order to preserve the
integrity of the most important site for the origination and
continuation of Cherokee culture, heritage, history and
It directs both the EBCI Attorney General's Office and the
EBCI Tribal Historic Preservation Office "to pursue remedies
to this situation, on behalf of the Tribe, in front of
the State Public Utilities Commission and by any informal
means where an acceptable resolution can be reached."
Russell Townsend, EBCI Tribal Historical Preservation
Office, told Tribal Council, "They (Duke Energy) claim to be
a good neighbor to the Tribe, and this is a clear indication
of where they let us down and appear to have violated some
state laws. This is our most important site. We're only
ever going to have one Kituwah."
Big Cove Elder Walker Calhoun commented, "I'm for preserving
that place where they're trying to build that tower. I'm
100% for preserving it."
Vice Chief Larry Blythe said, "We need to send a strong
message to Duke Energy that we're here and we deserve
respect." He said there should have been public
consultation meetings on this issue.
Hannah Smith, EBCI legal counsel, addressed Tribal Council
on Thursday as simply a concerned tribal member. "Cherokee
people, all over the world, originated here. To Cherokee
people, it's not just about beauty and views, those
mountains have meaning."
She also said it appears Duke has not followed state law.
"If they had followed the law, we wouldn't be here in this
state of emergency so to
[photo: The Mound at the Kituwah Site (Photo by
Scott McKie B.P./One Feather staff)]
Her sister, Natalie Smith, also
spoke on Thursday and related, "You all have ties to Kituwah.
Kituwah is not just dirt that resides in our property
line. Kituwah is in a relationship with its surroundings."
She further stated, "The mountains they have been dozing,
under our nose, is part of Kituwah, this is a shame.
They're shaming our soul by doing this,
and we can't allow them."
Tom Belt, a member of the Cherokee Nation and fluent
Cherokee speaker, has lived in Cherokee for 19 years. "The
Kituwah site is one of the most
profound and sacred things that is in the possession of our
people at this time. It is one of the most sacred things
that we have. We have nothing
else that we can say, to our knowledge, that more identifies
us, as a people whole, than this particular site."
Cherokee County - Snowbird Rep. Diamond Brown, Jr. said
everyone should think of the sacred Black Hills in South
Dakota being defaced with the
construction of Mount Rushmore. "I've been on the front
lines, and I'm not afraid to stand up for our people. Think
about this and use this as an
In an email to Fred Alexander, a Duke Energy official, on
Monday, Feb. 8, Cara Cowan Watts, deputy speaker of the
Cherokee Nation (OK) Tribal Council wrote, "Both the
Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
should be consulted before any work is done near the Mother
Town of Kituwah. Please consider putting your plans on
pause to see what workable solutions can be reached to
prevent negative impact on such a culturally-significant
site as Kituwah."
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