Nikwasi Initative

Lilly Knoepp / Blue Ridge Public Radio

The Cherokee Cultural Corridor in rural Western North Carolina took a major step forward this week.

Through the rain, officials from the Town of Franklin and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians gathered with others together at the Nikwasi Mound. 

“We’re going to have the actual groundbreaking so get your cameras ready!”

Fred Alexander

Last week, Mainspring Conservation Trust in Franklin was packed with locals and members to congratulate director Sharon Taylor on her retirement. 

“I’m overwhelmed at the number of people that have come out to congratulate me,” says Taylor. 

When Taylor started at the organization in 2001 with founder Paul Carlson, the mission was to help conserve the land known as the Needmore Tract along the Little Tennessee River. 

Lilly Knoepp

  Current mayor Bob Scott ran unopposed for his last two terms in office. The 17-year veteran of public service says he’s using the same signs as years past and took zero campaign contributions this time around. Here’s why: 


“To much money in elections. The worst thing that ever happened to this country was Citizens United,” says Scott, referring to the famous U.S. Supreme Court case.  

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

  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.


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. 

Lilly Knoepp

  At its March meeting, the Franklin Town Council moved forward with transferring ownership of the Nikwasi Mound.


Now certain residents and Franklin Mayor Bob Scott are asking for more information on the Nikwasi Initiative, the non-profit that will receive ownership of the mound.  BPR spoke to members of the group about their history and funding.

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

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.