Former Gov. Jim Hunt toured Cherokee last week at the invitation of Cherokee Preservation Foundation.
The governor, who helped negotiate the agreements between the EBCI and the State of North Carolina that paved the way for the casino and the establishment of Cherokee Preservation Foundation, came to see how the Foundation has invested in cultural preservation, economic development and environmental preservation over the past decade. He was accompanied by his wife and their daughter Rachel.
During the trip, he toured Cherokee, taking in new facilities and improvements made to the reservation since his last visit nearly a decade ago. He also met with tribal, cultural and community leaders to talk about progress made in recent years. It was his office that allowed the birth of casino gaming on the reservation, so this tour was a chance to see the fruits of that decision, more than 10 years on.
The Cherokee Preservation Foundation has given out more than $50 million to various Cherokee projects since its creation in 2000.
“When I last visited Cherokee ten or so years ago, the cultural organizations like Qualla Arts and Crafts, the Museum, the Drama and Village had wonderful products and programs, but the facilities were dated and not up to par with other venues around the state and region. Ten years later, I see a very different picture,” Hunt told guests at an evening dinner hosted by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.
Hunt was the governor from 1977 to 1985 and 1993 to 2001. He is the longest-serving governor in the state’s history.