Editorial: Respect Eastern Cherokee cultural site
"The state of North Carolina should do all it can to address the objections of the Eastern Band of Cherokee regarding a runway expansion at the Macon County Airport.

It’s a dustup that pits development against history and heritage.

North Carolina could spend half a million dollars or more removing American Indian artifacts in an effort to lengthen the runway at the airport an additional 600 feet, which would put it at 5,000 feet — the length necessary for jet traffic.

The site was once a large Cherokee town, and there are signs the area was inhabited by a pre-Cherokee culture around the time of Jesus. An examination has revealed 1,500 postholes of ancient structures and some 200 features such as food storage pits. Trinkley, who put the tab for an appropriate archaeological collection at the site at $2 million, said there could be as many as 400 graves around the airport.

As to the current plan, Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band, said, “We are totally opposed.” Trinkley used even stronger language, describing the proposed 25 percent collection thusly: “It’s an abomination, it’s vulgar, it’s obscene and it is disrespectful.”

And Hicks rightfully pointed out that tribal government, under federal regulations, had to remove 100 percent of artifacts during construction of the new school on the Qualla Boundary. The airport expansion isn’t on federal land, but 90 percent of its costs will be via federal dollars."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Put priority on respect for Cherokee heritage in runway expansion (The Asheville Citizen-Times 2/20)

Related Stories:
Eastern Cherokees oppose expansion of airport (2/17)