Kituwah, the Mother Town of the Cherokee, is in danger according to tribal citizens and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who are opposing the construction of a Duke Energy substation near the site. The tribal Council passed a resolution on Feb. 4 denouncing the construction plans.
“Kituwah is the most important sacred site to the Cherokee people,” 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 . . . .”
The resolution passed by the Tribal Council 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 identity.”
It directs both the tribe’s Attorney General’s and the 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.”
Tom Belt, a citizen 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 example.”
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.”