By ROBERT JUMPER
ONE FEATHER EDITOR
As we kiss 2017 a fond goodbye, we remember one of the most eventful years in tribal history. Our community has been on a roller coaster ride of emotion from incredible sadness to incredible elation.
In January, we were focused on the reintroduction of “Unto These Hills”. The Cherokee Historical Association decided to revert to the original script in hopes of a boost to sales and attendance, introducing a new generation to the drama of the Cherokee. The Lumbee recognition issue reappeared with new legislation potentially changing the chances of federal recognition for that community. We were concerned over allegations of underaged drinking during a school sports trip to South Carolina for the Battle at the Border tournament.
February saw dueling investigations involving Tribal Council and the Executive Office. We saw FBI raids at Qualla Housing, heard allegations and calls for impeachment. We also reported on the rise of activism in Cherokee and our connection to the broader Indian community. At month’s end, we celebrated Anthony Toinetta’s second state championship in high school wrestling.
And then as March began, we watched as the government battled within itself with impeachment, veto of impeachment, and, overriding of veto. The war raged on. Long-awaited repairs were approved and construction began on the Big Cove Road. Jerry Wolfe, Cherokee Beloved Man became an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Three of our Tribal Council representatives, one each from Cherokee County/Snowbird, Big Cove, and Yellowhill, chose not to seek re-election.
In April, Scarlett Guy graced the front of the One Feather with the lead story being her selection to the Governor’s School of North Carolina. We covered the opening of the refurbished Oconaluftee Indian Village. As impeachment efforts moved forward, then Principal Chief Patrick Lambert called a Grand Council, or what was called a Grand Council, because a week later, a Cherokee Tribal Court ruled that the meeting did not have the force of law.
May began with a focus on Cherokee language preservation and the efforts to safe this important part of our identity. We found that new turf was being installed at the high school football stadium and that a lawsuit was filed against the company that installed the original turf. And, we celebrated Richard Smith and Kendra Panther as the Cherokee High valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.
In June, we reported that Patrick Lambert had been impeached and removed from office. We also recognized the Remember the Removal riders as they accepted the challenge taking the journey along the Trail of Tears via bicycle. Speaking of bikes, the new Fire Mountain Trail was dedicated and opened. Elders, friends, and families walked to bring awareness to Cherokee elder abuse.
We kicked off July with a report of the Principal Chief Sneed, members of Tribal Council, and Tribal Court meeting with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper in Raleigh. Construction of a new cell tower began in Birdtown. A new Cherokee Senior Athletic Center opened in Birdtown. We told you about a facelift that the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum started in this month.
The first story of August was the Tribal Council vote to hold a special election for the then vacant Vice Chief office. Tribal Council also took action that would create a clean needle exchange program for drug users in hopes of reducing disease risk. We also reported on the beginning of the Cherokee Braves football season beginning. A historic solar eclipse occurred as thousands looked on from Cherokee and other parts of Western North Carolina. We lost Beloved Woman Shirley Oswalt and honored her on the front cover of the last edition of the month.
UltraStar’s new Multi-Tainment Center opened at Harrah’s Cherokee in late August. Tribal Council elections were held in early September and seven of the 12 seat holders were replaced. Shortly after the election, retiring Yellowhill Representative Alan B. Ensley was voted in as Vice Chief by the Tribal Council. The New Kituwah Academy started the Active Routes to School program, linking increased brain power to increased physical activity and getting young people interested in getting moving before school.
The first week of October saw the new Tribal Council sworn in with commitments to achieving unity. The 105th Cherokee Indian Fair continued the theme of unity – “One Nation, One Community, Always United”. The United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund Annual Meeting was held in Cherokee in October to discuss issues affecting Indian Country. Chief Sneed introduced, and Tribal Council passed, legislation to aggressively take legal action again all manufacturers and wholesale distributors.
In November, we celebrated with former Principal Chief Robert S. Youngdeer for being awarded a Chapel of the Four Chaplains Legion of Honor Bronze Medal. Tribal Council and the Executive Office came out in support of an alcohol referendum, although there was debate on just what should be included and how it should be worded. Coverage of Veterans’ Day in Cherokee included recognizing our Cherokee heroes with ceremony and gifts.
And, in late November and early December, it was all about the historic drive of the Cherokee High School Braves to ultimately win the North Carolina State 1A football championship. The team was front and center in three editions as they made it to the playoffs and then the trip to Raleigh. The Cherokee community supports it’s young people in all activities and was bursting with pride at the achievement of each step to the championship. And in this edition, we see the ribbon cutting and opening of our Snowbird substance abuse treatment facility.
And, that is just the highlights. Including this edition, we have provided you with 1,656 pages of information of interest to the Qualla Boundary and surrounding counties during the calendar year 2017. In comparison, the novel “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy, always noted for its great length, is 1,225 pages. We have also been pleased to provide you with additional content via our webpage and social media, above that of the print edition.
On behalf of Scott McKie Brings Plenty and Sally Davis, we thank you for the opportunity to serve this community and look forward to continuing to provide news and information to you in 2018. Have a merry, safe and blessed Christmas and a happy New Year!