By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
The Project Management Office conducted a public meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 29 in the Snowbird Community to discuss the future rebuild of the Junaluska Museum, which was damaged and closed in 2015 by a storm.
During the meeting, participants (including Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley, Cherokee County/Snowbird Reps. Adam Wachacha and Bucky Brown, Graham Co. Commissioner TJ Holland, and members of the Friends of Junaluska) discussed the creation of a plan for a new museum that would highlight the life and achievements of former Cherokee Chief Junaluska, as well as restore the current gravesite and memorial of Chief Junaluska in Robbinsville.
Feedback from the group to the planning office on desired goals for the museum included cementing the life, legacy, and current context of Chief Junaluska with the contemporary Eastern Band (how was Chief Junaluska important and why is he important today); illuminating the history of the Snowbird Cherokee; serving as living history for youth and elders through a speakers bureau on site; recognizing Chief Junaluska as one of the Eastern Band’s first veterans and highlighting the veterans that are from Snowbird; and providing a cutting-edge, state-of-the-art experience for the community and visitors.
The Junaluska Museum could be an anchor for the Graham County economy and another tourism attraction for the region. The attendees of the meeting expressed that they hoped for a balance that allows community members to use the facility, and entertain and educate visitors who come to the museum.
Travis Sneed, EBCI Project Management Office, related that a balanced fiscal approach to master plan development is also important. The current space will only allow limited development and expansion and it may not be cost effective or beneficial to the community to overdevelop the existing site. Depending on what the community and the Tribe decides it wants from the project, the plan may include acquiring additional land suitable for any expansion that may be desired. The museum has a long-standing need for storage space for its artifacts. One of the potential outcomes from a new Junaluska Museum would be additional archival and exhibit space.
Sneed also feels that this is a starting point in the community discussion regarding the project. There is much more work and communication that needs to take place to get to a final plan for the space. Ideas range from just refurbishing or rebuilding the existing structures on the property to siting an expanded museum on another piece of property and refurbishing the gravesite location. According to Sneed, more discussion is needed before a solid plan may be established.
The house that sits on the property was a home-site that was repurposed as a museum. The gravesite was memorialized in 1910 by the General Joseph Winston Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Photographs of the dedication ceremony are held at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and have been featured in history books.
Assisting the Project Management Office in the development of a master plan for the site will be Aniwaya Design and Planning, whose company representative, Zeke Cooper, facilitated the meeting.
Cooper stated, “We’re excited to be a part of such a monumental project for the tribe and Snowbird Community. To be able to complete a master plan for the Junaluska Museum & Memorial is an honor and responsibility that we take very seriously. Junaluska was a hero, war veteran, and an amazing leader. With help from the community, tribal departments and leaders, we will create a master plan that everyone is proud of.”
Vice Chief Alan B. Ensley commented, “It was exciting to be a part of the meeting with the Snowbird community. Snowbird members expressed their pride in Junaluska and his accomplishments. They want the museum to portray the heritage and the way of life of the Snowbird Community. I look forward to working in collaboration with Snowbird on this project.”
Travis Sneed and the Project Management Office will be continuing to take public input on the Junaluska Museum project. He may be contacted at email@example.com or 359-6701.