Official proposal submitted for Kuwohi name change

by Feb 12, 2024NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments

Office of the Principal Chief release


Lavita Hill and Mary Crowe, both members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI), submitted a proposal to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) on Tuesday, Feb. 6 on behalf of EBCI Principal Chief Michell Hicks and Tribal Council to officially request the name change of Clingman’s Dome, located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and restore it to the original name Kuwohi.

“It is very exciting to have submitted the final application to restore Kuwohi. It represents a lot of time and energy by many different people to get to this point,” said Hill. “We have done the work necessary to gather strong support for this to happen. And we have put together a very strong case about why this should happen. The final application is 167 pages long and very carefully describes all the historical and cultural reasons it is important to restore the Kuwohi name to the mountain.”

Read these past One Feather articles for more information on this topic:

Cherokee women seeking name change for Clingman’s Dome (June 16, 2022)

Council supports Clingman’s Dome name change (July 14, 2022)

Efforts to store Kuwohi name moving forward (Jan. 5, 2024)

In 2022, the Tribal Council passed Res. No. 343 (2022), which officially began exploring the possibility of petitioning the federal government to restore the name of Kuwohi and effort to return the rightful name to Clingman’s Dome.

Since then, Hill and Crowe have received enthusiastic support from local and regional organizations, including supportive articles in the New York Times and USA Today, bringing awareness and education of the Cherokee people and its history as tourists aren’t visiting Clingmans Dome; they’re visiting the ancestral homelands of the Cherokee. Per the submittal response from the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, part of the review process includes allowing all federally recognized Tribes to comment should they choose to by Federal policies regarding Tribal Consultation. The entire review and approval process is expected to take several months.

“It’s important that Tribal leaders keep pushing forward with our goal. I want my granddaughter to be part of the first generation of Cherokee people who will only ever know the mountain by her rightful name, Kuwohi,” Hill continued, “we have told people from the beginning that for 12,000 years or more, we called this place Kuwohi. Only over the last 160 years was it called something else. It’s time for all of us to restore her rightful name.”