SUBMITTED By SARAH M. SNEED
Tribal Council unanimously approved on July 1 the development of a Tribal Archive Facility for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The measure, submitted by Birdtown Rep. Tunney Crowe, provides for the development of a repository compliant with all applicable legal, professional and scientific standards for the curation and preservation of objects of Eastern Band Cherokee historical and archaeological materials.
Speaking in support of his proposed resolution, Rep. Crowe stated that the need for a tribal archive is “dire,” citing, among other things, the need to accommodate collections of four past Principal Chief’s official papers, as well as very old documents of significance to Eastern Band tribal history currently maintained by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Cherokee Agency.
The Council’s vote follows discussion among a cross-section of community members regarding the need for a permanent and controlled environment housing materials of historical importance, including archaeological items extracted from the school site at Ravensford, and tribal records. Former Principal Chief and current Superintendent of Cherokee Central Schools, Joyce C. Dugan, serves as Chair of the archive working group, which was reconfigured as the Archive Facility Task Force following approval of the resolution.
Chief Dugan stated, “I am so pleased that the Tribal Council has decided to move forward with the development of a tribal archives facility. Our tribe has long been a leader in historic preservation, and a state-of-the art storage facility for our most important records is essential to maintaining an accurate record of our history. I look forward to working with other community members in the development of this project as a community resource.”
The archive facility will provide community members with hands-on access, under prescribed standards and conditions, to Eastern Cherokee historic materials and a place where primary research into the tribe’s history can be undertaken.
Principal Chief Michell Hicks commented, “As Principal Chief, I have always supported a facility that will allow us to archive our historic artifacts and documents. This facility will provide this community and the world with an opportunity to research and learn about Cherokee history and culture. Through my visits to the museums and archives at the University of North Carolina, the University of Tennessee and many others, I have been exposed to many artifacts and documents that pertain to the Cherokee people. As a Tribe, we need this facility so we can reclaim these items, because it is our responsibility and our right to maintain and protect our history and culture. There is a committee working on the planning for this facility and the tribe is researching avenues to fund this important project.”
The Archive Facility Task Force is currently developing documents through which materials of interest can be assessed for inclusion in the Archive collection and will soon announce processes through which tribal programs and individual community members can contribute materials to the collection.
At the July 1 Council Session, Tribal Operations Manager Rosie McCoy stated that an archive facility is “desperately” needed and that the project “is not just for tribal programs, but individuals as well. We have people out in the community who have very valuable collections that need safe-keeping.”
She also stated that she feels it important for the Council and Cherokee community to understand that the resolution does not request tribal funding but instead directs the Office of Planning and Development to begin the search for available non-tribal funds to support construction of the facility.
The Archive Facility Task Force will meet monthly with Planning and Development staff as the initiative progresses.