© 2023 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Franklin Town Council Moves Forward To Give Sacred Mound To Nonprofit

Lilly Knoepp
Nikwasi Mound in downtown Franklin is a sacred place for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. The mound is currently owned by the town of Franklin.

  On the 200 year anniversary of territory being taken from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee in Macon County, the Franklin town council is moving toward a compromise to give that land back.  


The Franklin Town Council took an historic step Monday night to give the sacred Nikwasi Mound to a nonprofit organization run in part by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee -The Nikwasi Initiative.


Franklin Vice Mayor Barbara McRae is the co-chair of the  Initiative.  She introduced the motion to deed the mound to the nonprofit organization. Nikwasi Initiative is made up of representatives from the town, the county, ECBI and Mainspring Conservation Trust.


“This was we can all use this asset that doesn’t really belong to any of us,” says McRae. “It’s a historic treasure that’s been around a thousand years and we are lucky to have it in Franklin.”


Juanita Wilson, is the other co-chair and an Executive Advisor for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.  Wilson says this compromise is something they’ve been working on for a long time. The conversation has gone back and forth for years. Some in Franklin feel that the town has preserved the mound for the last 200 years so they should be able to continue ownership, while others think it should be given back to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.


“I like this compromise because all of the partners are present,” says Wilson. “They are all still looking out for the wellbeing of the mound and I can’t ask for a greater partnership than that.”

The mound will be a part of a cultural corridor of preserved land that will run over 60 miles along the Little Tennessee River. This spring, a historical kiosk will be erected at the mound.

Despite this historic step, the details of the deal still need to be hammered out at next month’s town council meeting.


Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
Related Content