A North Carolina site that according to Cherokee tradition once held the tribe’s sacred flame is in danger of being destroyed by a planned power station.
Leaders of the Eastern Band of Cherokee have asked Duke Energy to stop work on the site overlooking Kituwah, an area that has been populated for 9,000 years, according to this story by Bruce Henderson in the Charlottte (N.C.) News & Observer:
The Swain County site, called Kituwah, sits in a field along the Tuckasegee River and is surrounded by mountains. After generations of farming, the mound is 170 feet wide and only 5 feet high.
The base of the Kituwah Mound runs roughly across the center of the photograph. (Brisan Stansberrgy - Wikipedia Commons in Charlotte Observer)
Tradition says it once was the foundation of buildings that held the Cherokees’ sacred flame, tended year-round at the tribe’s “mother town.” …
“It was a place that was given to us to begin our lives as a people,” said Tom Belt, coordinator of the Cherokee language program at Western Carolina University.
Tribal leaders says work was begun without their input, and they may take their complaint to the North Carolina Utilities Commission.
Duke officials say they didn’t immediately realize there was a problem, and that no construction will take place until Brett Carter, Duke’s president in the Carolinas, meets with tribal leaders this week.
Meanwhile, there is, of course, a Facebook page set up by those protesting construction at the site. It has more than 2,000 fans. Find it on Facebook by searching “Save Kituwah.”
This just in from the Associated Press:
By EMERY P. DALESIO of the Associated Press
Harrah's Cherokee Casino (IndianGaming.com)
RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina’s appeals court on Tuesday upheld a statewide ban on video poker machines except those operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in their Smoky Mountains casino.
A three-judge court panel ruled unanimously that a 2006 state law giving the tribe exclusive gaming rights within North Carolina does not violate a federal Indian gaming law as an amusement machine vendor had argued.
The tribe operates Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, which attracts more than 3.5 million visitors a year and generates revenues of more than $250 million annually. Tribal members in June received checks for $3,892 in the first of this year’s twice-a-year payments.
The ruling overturned a February decision by Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning that sided with the gaming company and could have again legalized video poker machines in all 100 counties.
But the appeals court said the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows states to grant tribes preferential gaming rights in hopes the revenues would expand tribal self-government, economic development, and political stability.
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Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee (Southwestern Community College photo)
North Carolina seems to be in the news today, what with the story about the monochromatic depictions in the art at the state Capitol. Actually, this story also has some relationship to the Capitol.
Gov. Bev Perdue says that – as opposed to her predecessor, Gov. Mike Easley – she’s open to the idea of Vegas-style card games at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, according to this story in the Asheville (N.C.) Citzen-Times.
“I am going to have a conversation. I don’t know what the contract allows, but we’re going to work together,” Perdue tells the newspaper.
As it stands now, the casino has only video gambling machines and digital blackjack with live dealers. The tribe estimates that live gaming could bring in $35 million in state taxes, with an annual payroll of $100 million a year.
The tribe’s principal Chief, Michell Hicks says the tribe still wants to work out a deal, but adds, “things are at a standstill right now,” he said.
Easley and Hicks disagreed so vociferously in 2006 that all negotiations for live gaming by the tribe came to a halt.
Bob Barker (AP/Damian Dovarganes)
Just as yesterday’s theme was waiting … and waiting … and waiting, today’s seems to be outrage. And celebrities. And – stop the presses – eyebrow-raising celebrity behavior. Go figure. Maybe it’s the heat. People are cranky.
Bob Barker sure is. In North Carolina, the former game show host – with an assist from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – is calling for a tourism boycott against the Eastern Cherokee because of bears in privately owned zoos in Cherokee.
So is the tribe. “I’m appalled by his behavior and him accusing the Cherokee of being barbaric,” Chief Mitchell Hicks tells the Asheville Citizen-Times, here.
Barker, who met this week with tribal leaders, referred to the bear zoos as a “Third World spectacle.”
Both the tribe and the USDA inspect the zoos, the story says.