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fr broadbandIt’s been more than eight years since the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians made its first move toward creating a business to bring Internet to the Qualla Boundary, but the issue has proven a good bit more complicated than first expected.

Cherokee will institute a two-week fishing season closure each March beginning in 2016 after operating under a year-round season since 2011. 

“We decided to open it up to year-round just to provide more fishing opportunities during March when the state fishing waters were closed, but we decided to go back to a compromise with a two-week closure in March to allow our operations to catch up for the opening day and allow a new level of excitement for the opener, knowing the waters haven’t been fished for two weeks,” explained Mike Lavoie, fisheries and wildlife program manager for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Same-sex marriage may be legal in the state of North Carolina, but it’s not on the Qualla Boundary, according to a resolution recently passed by Cherokee Tribal Council. 

Though tribal code already defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, the newly adopted resolution further specifies that the “licensing and solemnizing” of same-sex marriage cannot happen on tribal land.

fr cherokeejusticeIt’s not every day that the scent of barbecue meatballs wafts through the open doors of a jail filled with smiling people wearing slacks, sport coats and blouses. But it’s also not every day that a sovereign nation finishes building its first-ever justice facility. 

“This is not just about a building,” said Principle Chief Michell Hicks as he prepared to cut the ribbon on the $26-million building in a ceremony that had nearly all of the building’s 175 parking spaces full. “It’s not just about having a place to put our stuff. We’re going to change who we are as a people.” 

Plans to memorialize a Cherokee gravesite found earlier this year in the midst of construction for a new baseball tournament complex in Macon County now have some hard costs attached to them, and the county has requested funding from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation to make them happen. 

 “It was well received,” Commissioner Ronnie Beale said of the request, which he brought to the foundation’s director, Annette Clapsaddle, earlier this month.

Though Cherokee Tribal Council meetings are broadcast live online and through tribal television — as well as recorded on DVDs — council retains the right to exclude non-Cherokee people from its chamber. 

During its Dec. 11 meeting, it did just that, requesting that police officers escort a reporter from The Smoky Mountain News — me — off the premises.  

fr tribalcouncilEditor’s note: Cherokee Tribal Police would not allow Smoky Mountain News Staff Writer Holly Kays entry into the Cherokee Tribal Council chambers to report on this meeting, which took place on Dec. 11. This story was written after watching a DVD recording of the meeting.

It’s been two months since Cherokee Tribal Council members voted to increase their salaries by $10,800 — and receive backpay for the years when the raises supposedly should have gone into effect — but that hasn’t been enough time for the public reaction to the increases, which many believe to be illegal, to cool down. 

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will open its new state-of-the-art, $26 million Cherokee Justice Center on Dec. 17 following two years of construction. 

fr cherokeeThere wasn’t much discussion in the chamber Oct. 14 when Cherokee Tribal Council passed its budget for 2014-15. But as news of backpay and a $10,000 raise for council members spread through the reservation, things heated up.

“You’ve opened a door by doing it, and I’m going to question and I’m going to stay on top of this and I’m going to refresh our memories and I’m going to keep the public refreshed,” Teresa McCoy, councilmember from Big Cove, told council during its Oct. 21 meeting. “They’re going to hear about it until they get sick of hearing what council’s doing. You need to go back and read your oath of office.”

Construction on the Parker Meadows sports complex is moving forward, but with some alterations to the original plan following the July discovery of a Cherokee gravesite in the midst of the future ballfields. At the Macon County commissioners’ November meeting, County Planner Matt Mason presented some sketches of what a memorial to the gravesite might look like. 

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    Books that help bridge the political divide Time for spring-cleaning.  The basement apartment in which I live could use a deep cleaning: dusting, washing, vacuuming. It’s tidy enough — chaos and I were never friends — but stacks of papers need sorting, bookcases beg to see their occupants removed and the shelves…
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