SUBMITTED By LYNNE HARLAN
Principal Chief Michell Hicks and the Tribal Council met with Duke Energy President Brett C. Carter on Thursday, Feb. 18 regarding Duke Energy’s Hyatt Tie in Substation in Swain County. Tribal officials voiced concerns that the substation, currently under construction, presents a significant negative impact to the tribe’s Kituwah site.
Kituwah (pronounced Gee-doo-wah) is known as the mother town of the Cherokee and is regarded as the most sacred site still in existence for the Cherokee people.
Chief Hicks said, “We wanted to open the discussion about the substation with Duke Energy so they are aware of our concerns. Our primary concern is that this discussion was not held prior to planning and execution of this project. The Tribe has always had a positive relationship with Duke however our first priority is to protect the sacred site of Kituwah for future generations.”
Carter met with Chief Hicks and Principal Chief George Wickliffe, of the United Keetowah Band of Cherokee from Oklahoma, before joining the EBCI Tribal Council.
Duke Energy staff presented the plan for the project, currently being constructed on an adjacent hillside, and offered a series of mitigation plans to minimize the negative impact which has tribal leaders concerned. Possible mitigation includes the utilization of materials and wildlife plantings to minimize visual impact.
Several tribal members were also in attendance as were officials from Swain County.
Chief Hicks continued, “I am confident that Mr. Carter is fully aware of our concerns and that together we can work toward a resolution which protects the integrity of this site while meeting the need for energy in the region. Kituwah is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and considerations for its protection are paramount for both Swain County and the Tribe.”
EBCI leaders expect to work with Duke Energy in the coming weeks to propose solutions which are amicable to both interests.
Lynne is the public relations officer for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.