By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
UNC Asheville values its relationship with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), and it wants to show the world. Following approval of Res. No. 556 by Tribal Council during its regular meeting on Thursday, April 4, the university has the go-ahead to name a meeting space in the renovated Highsmith Student Union To Ki Ya Sdi meaning ‘the place where they race’ or ‘the race place’.
“I think the naming of the To Ki Ya Sdi room is important in that it is another step in educating people on UNCA’s campus about Cherokee people and in making the campus a healthy and respectful place for future EBCI students at UNCA,” said Trey Adcock, Ph.D., a Cherokee Nation citizen who is an assistant professor and director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the university, who submitted the legislation to Tribal Council. “I am grateful to the Cherokee Language Consortium for their help on this initiative, for the words of support from Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed, and for Tribal Council’s vote of approval.”
The resolution passed Council unanimously and speaks to the relationship between the university and the Tribe. “…in March 2015, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the University of North Carolina at Asheville strengthened its deep and lasting relationship with the signing of an Institutional Credit Agreement, and that Agreement served to ease the path to higher education for Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians members.”
UNC Asheville Chancellor Nancy J. Cable told the One Feather, “UNC Asheville and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have a deep, longstanding partnership rooted in celebrating and preserving the time-honored culture and tradition of the Cherokee Indians. In honor of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and its lasting connection to UNC Asheville, the naming of the To Ki Ya Sdi room, located in the heart of the UNC Asheville campus in Highsmith Student Union, reinforces our shared commitment to – and respect for – the indigenous people of our beautiful mountains.”
During discussion on the legislation on Thursday, Dr. Adcock noted there were 21 EBCI students enrolled at the university in the fall semester with a total of seven graduating this academic year (two this past fall, and five more this spring).
Chief Sneed spoke in favor of the legislation on Thursday citing the wonderful relationship between the university and the Tribe. He was especially complimentary of the number of EBCI students attending the institution, “This is directly attributable to the work of Dr. Adcock and the work of Gilliam Jackson and the work they’re doing with the Cherokee Language and Cherokee Studies program at UNCA. UNCA is a good fit for our students because it’s a small campus and there is a real sense of community there. With Dr. Adcock and Gil Jackson being there, they’ve really created our own community of enrolled members over there. I applaud the work that they’re doing.”
The resolution states that Beloved Woman Myrtle Driver, Gilliam Jackson, and Charlie Bigwitch approved the naming project on behalf of the Cherokee Language Consortium.