Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Lilly Knoepp

Earlier this year, the three Cherokee tribes in the U.S. – which includes the Eastern Band of Cherokee in Western North Carolina - announced their language is in a state of emergency because of a shortage of fluent speakers.  Efforts to reverse that have taken on many forms – such as at a summer camp in Graham County.   

 That’s where campers learned to sing this summer’s #1 song - in Cherokee.

“Old Town Road” by Lil NasX was undeniably the song of summer 2019.

But you probably haven’t heard it like this: 

Lilly Knoepp

The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians held their general election last night for all 12 tribal council seats, vice chief and principal Chief. 

 

In the unofficial tally, Principal Chief Richard Sneed held onto his seat with about 400 votes more than veteran politician Teresa McCoy. At her campaign headquarters last night, McCoy thanks Sneed for running a pretty clean campaign.    

 

Lilly Knoepp

One week from today, voters on the Qualla Boundary will head to the polls to elect all positions in the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians tribal government. BPR has this look at the principal chief race. 

Neither candidate for principal chief is new to politics. Current Chief Richard Sneed has been in this office since 2017. Teresa McCoy has been a tribal council member on and off for close to 20 of the last 30 years. 

Lilly Knoepp

An ancient Cherokee mound in Franklin has now officially been turned over to a local nonprofit.  BPR attended the commemoration of the transfer. 

Locals gathered in a pavilion on the Greenway near the Nikwasi Mound to mark the sacred site’s handover to the Nikwasi Initiative. Bob McCollum is on its board.

“Good morning,” says McCullom. The crowd responds: “Good morning!”

“What a great day that has been a long time in coming,” he says. 

Lilly Knoepp

Western Carolina University has been breaking enrollment records for years but as they expand they need to continue to remember their history. BPR digs into their recent archaeological finds. 

 

Under a hot sun, students wield tiny trowels and dust pans to unearth ancient artifacts under the supervision of their archaeology professor. 

 

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's governor has signed legislation allowing an American Indian tribe to offer sports and horse wagering at its two casinos.

The measure letting the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians offer the betting passed by a wide margin in both legislative chambers earlier in the year.

Gov. Roy Cooper's office announced Friday that the gaming measure was among more than a dozen pieces of legislation he signed. The law takes effect with Cooper's signature.

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina's only federally recognized American Indian tribe could soon offer sports and horse wagering to patrons at its two casinos.

The General Assembly on Monday gave final approval to a measure that would give the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians the authority to offer the additional types of betting. The House voted 90-27 for the measure that had already cleared the Senate three months ago.

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

North Carolina lawmakers could give the final okay to sports betting in the state as early as Monday.  A bill that would allow sports books and off-track horse betting at casinos on tribal lands cleared a key House committee Wednesday in Raleigh, and is on the agenda for a floor vote Monday evening.  The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians operate the only two casinos in North Carolina.  The casinos are located in Cherokee and Murphy on the Qualla Boundary.  

Lilly Knoepp

  The Cherokee language is officially in a state of emergency according to the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes. Blue Ridge Public Radio sat down with an Eastern Band native speaker at the new Kituwah Academy to learn more. 

 

Myrtle Driver Johnson is 75 years old. She’s an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and a Beloved Woman. 

 

Johnson introduces herself in Cherokee before switching to English. 

 

Matt Bush

The general election is months away on the Qualla Boundary, but sexual assault allegations are resurfacing against a candidate for tribal council for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  

 

Two weeks from today, the primary election for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will take place.  Early voting is already underway on the Qualla Boundary as prinicipal chief, vice chief, all 12 seats on the tribal council, and three seats on the Cherokee school board are on the ballot.  The general election will take place in September.  

Lilly Knoepp

The Franklin Town Council has voted to transfer the deed to the ancient Nikwasi Mound to a nonprofit.   

The hall broke out into applause after the town council voted unanimously in favor of transferring the property to the Nikwasi Initiative - a nonprofit made up of representatives from Franklin, Macon County, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and Mainspring Conservation Trust.

Hope Huskey is on the board of the Nikwasi Initiative and a member of the Eastern Band.  

 

Lilly Knoepp

  As the controversy over the ownership of the Nikwasi Mound in Franklin lingers on, Macon County officials are highlighting their working relationship with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.

 

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

With no discussion and little opposition the North Carolina Senate quickly passed S.B 154 that would allow sports and off-track betting at the Cherokee and Murphy casinos owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  

Lilly Knoepp

The Franklin Town Council delayed its decision until next month on transferring the deed of the Nikwasi Mound to nonprofit The Nikwasi Initiative.

It was standing room only for the public session on the transfer of the Nikwasi Mound, as 19 different people spoke before town council for and against the deal. 

Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

  At its March meeting, the Franklin Town Council moved forward with a motion to transfer ownership of the Nikwasi Mound to a nonprofit.

 

The origin of the ancient mound has been called into question. BPR spoke with historians and archeologists about the mound and what makes it a sacred space.

 

Lilly Knoepp

  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.

 

Lilly Knoepp

Both nationally and locally, candidates are beginning to startup their campaigns for 2020. But one important election is taking place this year in Western North Carolina.

 

The Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians are a sovereign nation with their own governmental structure. All 12 spots for the members of the tribal council as well as the principal chief and the vice chief  are open since their 2 year terms are ending.

Lilly Knoepp

The first piece of a project connecting historical sites of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee is complete.  When the full project is finished, a cultural corridor will run over 60 miles along the Little Tennessee River from Rabun County in Georgia to the town of Cherokee on the Qualla Boundary in North Carolina. The effort has been a long time coming.

Leaders for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are moving forward with a voter referendum on whether to allow expanded alcohol sales on the Qualla Boundary.  When it might happen is still unclear.  Smoky Mountain News reporter Holly Kays joined BPR’s Matt Bush to discuss the latest, as well as the history of the ban on alcohol sales in Cherokee - which had been totally dry until 2009, when alcohol sales were finally permitted at the Harrah's Casino there, which first op

Davin Eldridge

The Great American Eclipse proved to be a profound moment for many people across the country, including in Cherokee.

In The Shadow Of The Eclipse, Cherokee Legends Are Told

Aug 18, 2017
Visitcherokeenc.com

With the Great American Eclipse right around the corner, the small towns of Western North Carolina set to fall directly in its path are  busy with last minute preparations before the big event. But for the town of Cherokee, the celestial spectacle is more than just another tourist event.  BPR’s Davin Eldridge met with organizers there to find out what’s in store for the reservation…

The FBI arrested seven Cherokee residents last month following an investigation into marriage fraud, and authorities are still looking for four others they allege were involved. BPR’s Davin Eldridge has more…

This week the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians Tribal Council voted to remove principal chief Patrick Lambert from office.  It’s only the second time in tribe history this has occurred.  Lambert was brought up on 12 impeachment charges, and has been a controversial figure since he was first elected principal chief in 2015.

FBI Raid & Impeachment In Cherokee

Feb 3, 2017

Thursday was quite the tumultuous day in Cherokee.  The FBI raided the Qualla Housing Authority.  In October, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a letter to the authority announcing it was investigating multiple claims of fraud.  The authority serves the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  The tribal council for the Cherokee on Thursday also announced impeachment proceedings will commence against Principal Chief Patrick Lambert.  Reporter Holly Kays of the Smoky Mountain News spoke with WCQS to recap the day's events.    

The Eastern Band of Cherokee tribe and the reservation’s surroundings in Western North Carolina are known for mountain beauty, rich culture, and history.

Of course, it's also home to North Carolina's only casino.

And it's home to Miss Native American USA. Her name is Kristina Hyatt, and she’s a dental hygienist who in the last year has visited reservations to promote dental care.

A Conversation with NPR's Steve Inskeep

Jun 2, 2015
npr.org

NPR Morning Edition host and author Steve Inskeep was in Asheville Monday to promote his new book "Jacksonland."  It tells the bloody story of the long-running feud between President Andrew Jackson and Cherokee Chief John Ross over land that would become the southern United States. 

Special to the Citizen-Times

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the University of North Carolina Asheville have signed a formal agreement that may result in more members of the tribe attending the University.  Principal Chief Michell Hicks and UNC Asheville Chancellor Mary Grant signed the agreement in both Kituwah Cherokee syllabary and English last Friday.  Chancellor Grant says the agreement will lead to a deeper partnership with the Tribe.