From the moment April’s Tribal Council session began — 8:30 a.m. sharp on the sixth — the Cherokee Council House was packed. Tribal members filled the seats and stood against the walls leading out to the lobby, where chairs in front of a TV broadcasting the meeting inside quickly reached capacity. Faces bearing expressions of sadness, or anticipation, or grim resignation, they waited for the action to start.
Much of Western North Carolina’s native history is hidden in plain sight along the Tennessee River Valley from Otto to Bryson City.
The race for Cherokee Tribal Council will feature 45 candidates competing for 12 seats around the horseshoe table when the new session begins in October.
The last known footprint of the slant-eyed giant Judaculla is not easy to get to.
First, there’s the drive to Wolf Laurel Trailhead, which takes about an hour to reach from Robbinsville up a steep and rutted U.S. Forest Service road that winds past tumbling waterfalls and an intersection with the Appalachian Trail before reaching the parking lot. Then there’s the hike — 3.5 miles of steep uphills offset by rocky downhills pieced together with the occasional stretch of level ground, often while traversing a narrow ridgeline with slopes falling steeply to either side.
The widow of former Vice Chief Bill Ledford is refusing to move after Tribal Council’s January vote to strike the portion of his will that left her the house, and now a May 1 date in the Cherokee Tribal Court will determine the final outcome.
When Ed Sutton first came to Cherokee in November to break ground on a new trail system, his directive was clear.
“We told him his marching orders were just make it great. Make it awesome,” said Jeremy Hyatt, Secretary of Administration for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Three seats will be up for grabs in Cherokee’s 2017 Tribal Council elections, with incumbent councilmembers from Big Cove, Snowbird and Yellowhill not signing up to run for re-election as of the March 15 filing deadline.
Shirley Oswalt (pictured above, left, with sister Geraldine Thompson) was named a Beloved Woman of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians on Tuesday, Feb. 2, the highest honor that can be given to a Cherokee woman and one that’s held by only two other living people.
Shirley Jackson Oswalt can still remember the first words she said in English.
Her older siblings had prepped her before she headed off to her first day of first grade at the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Snowbird Day School in Robbinsville, and when the teacher came over to greet her, Oswalt knew her line.
A petition drive is underway in Cherokee aiming to place term limits on Tribal Council members and give tribal members the right to recall elected officials.