Cherokees oppose plan for electrical station on site where tribe began

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is fighting construction of a Duke Energy electrical station next to a mound that marks the tribe's ancestral home.

The Swain County, N.C., site, called Kituwah, sits in a field along the Tuckasegee River and is surrounded by mountains. After generations of farming, the mound is 170 feet wide and 5 feet high. Tradition says it once was the foundation of buildings that held the Cherokees' sacred flame, tended year-round at the tribe's "mother town." Archaeologists say Kituwah (KEE-to-wa) has been occupied for at least 9,000 years.

Tribal leaders say Duke started clearing a site overlooking Kituwah in December without consulting them. The principal chief has asked Duke to temporarily stop work, and the tribe might file a complaint with the N.C. Utilities Commission.

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