Sunday, March 8, 2009

Action Alert: Small NC Airport Plans to Desecrate 400 Cherokee Graves with Runway Extension

Editor's Commentary

Macon County Airport Authority, North Carolina is preparing to extend its airport in the Iolta Valley 600 feet into a well-documented ancient Cherokee Town Site. According to archaeologists this will not only destroy an irreplaceable cultural and scientific resource; it will also dig up, disturb, destroy or bulldoze and pave over the graves of an estimated 400 Cherokee ancestors.

Under North Carolina law, any Native American remains recovered must be given to state scientists, who can retain them for up to four years for study and "analysis." The decision as to ultimate disposal of the remains is left to the state bureaucracy instead of the Eastern Band of Cherokee.

Interestingly, any non-native remains that are unearthed are to be returned to their next of kin, whose right of determining how they should be disposed of is inviolate. In our opinion, this law violates the 14th Amendment's guarantee of Equal Protection under the Law because it provides disparate treatment on the basis of race and ethnicity. Additionally, because the project will receive partial federal funding it falls under the provisions of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which affords affected Native American tribes a say in such projects. A good attorney should be able to stop this shameful action.

The proposed airport extension is rightly viewed as an act of desecration by the Cherokee People, just as it would be by any other people, were it their ancestors.

With respect to projects such as this airport extension, North Carolina law requires that the developer and a state agency must come up with what is essentially a mitigation plan in "consultation" with the affected Native American tribe - in this case, the Eastern Band of Cherokee. After 8 years of such talks the Cherokee have steadfastly opposed the project and refused to "approve" the planned development. Although the law makes such approval mandatory, the plan is moving forward anyway. This once again proves the adage that in the United States "Money Trumps All."

In the following action alert, Sharon Kitchen, who is Cherokee and founder of Save the Sacred Sites Alliance calls upon all persons with a conscience to call a long list of bureaucrats and express their outrage and opposition to the project. - Perry Chesnut, Editor NRN


Save The Sacred Sites Alliance

by Sharon L. Kitchen (Founder, STSSA)
Press Release: March 8, 2009

Urgent: For Immediate Release

Stop the Desecration of Cherokee Graves

What: This site was once a large Cherokee Town: pre-Cherokee Culture around 2 A.D. with over 1,500 postholes of ancient structures/200 food pits/over 400 graves.

Where: Adjacent to the Macon County Airport/in the Iotla Valley (per the 1760 Cherokee Town map) Franklin, N.C.

Why: Macon County Airport Authority wants to extend another 600’ of runway for the "affluent", part time homeowners.

Contact the Following with your Opposition

Macon County Airport Authority

Chair: Mike Gregory *(he feels it will be good for buisness), Macon County Courthouse, 5 W. Main St. Franklin, N.C. 28734 Phone:828-524-5529

Physical address : 1241 Airport Rd Neil Hoppe (manager) Franklin, N.C. 28734-1513 Phone:828-524-5529

Attorney: Joe Collins, P.O. Box 727 Sylvia, NC 28799, Phone: 828-586-1771(he is all for the "affluent" getting their way, and has stated, "This will be a real asset and an economic stimulus").

Rep. P. Phillip Haire NC House of Representatives, Legislative Office Building, 300 N. Salisbury Street,,Room 639 Raleigh, NC 27603-5925

Macon County Board of Commissioners: Chairman- Ronnie Beale, 177 Sloan Rd. Franklin, NC 28734, Phone:828.369.5044 (o) 828.524.4168 (h)

C0-Chairman – Dr. Jim Davis 37 Georgia Rd. Franklin, NC 28734 Phone:828.369.2054

Board Member Brian McClellan (Donald B) 18 Mount Lori Highlands, NC 28741 Phone:828.787.2131/828.342.0379

Board Member Bobby Kuppers 1652 Rose Creek Rd. Franklin, NC 28734 Phone:828.524.1954 (he also sits on the Board of the Airport Authority - conflict of interest?)

Board Member Robert L (Bob) Simpson P.O. Box 716 Franklin, NC 28744 Phone:828.369.1578/828.524.3525

**Deed for this property located in deed book S-25 Pages 1582-1585 (no NC excise Tax paid and was a simple title and a Warranty Deed, dated April 23,2002 **

Those opposed:

Michell Hicks, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee

Michael Trinkley, Ph.D., Archaeologist for the Chicora Foundation, P.O. Box 8664 Columbia, SC 29202 Phone:803.787.6910,,

As he said in a Citizen-Times article: "It’s an abomination, it’s vulgar, it’s obscene and it is disrespectful." In the Feb. 12, 2009 article, he said, "this is a very major, very large, late Cherokee site of exceptional importance, the likes of which we will not see again in our lifetimes."

There are many more people in and around NC as well as the rest of the world that do not want this site touched.

Save the Sacred Sites is opposed to the proposed action by the airport authority and the Macon County Commissioners. This entire area should be saved and not touched. Enough is Enough. Graves are sacred. No matter who’s they are. Anyone that is willing to join and fight to save this area please: write/fax/call/email, all those involved. Let all your friends/neighbors and contacts have this information. Time is all important.

Sharon L. Kitchen, founder
Save the Sacred Sites

Following is Sharon's letter to Joseph Barkevich of the NC Department of Administration, which has jurisdiction over the proposed airport expansion.

To: Joseph Barkevich 3-5-09
c/o N.C Department of Administration Phone: 828.786.4261
1301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1301

From: Sharon L. Kitchen Phone:912.424.1260
P. O. Box 324
Townsend, Ga. 31331

Re: Sch#09E00000216 Type: NEPA, Applicant: Macon County Airport Authority
Desc: Airport project Region: A, County: Macon

I, Sharon L. Kitchen, on behalf of my organization, Save The Sacred Sites, herby state that we do not want any disturbance of the site referenced above. Our group has over 5,000 members world – wide. They have been informed of this project on our website.

There are many reasons:

(1st) : This is a pre- Cherokee site, with a date around 2 A.D. per Dr. Michael Trinkley’s archaeologist report, which I have.

(2nd): Over 400 graves would be desecrated. I and my husband are of Cherokee descent.

(3rd) : There has been no Environmental Impact Study done, as of this date.

(4th): Those not familiar with the burial practices of Native peoples do not know the ceremonies with each and every burial.

(5th): In this country the practice of embalming did not start until very late. Since this site goes back in time to around 2 A.D., all the way up through the arrival of foreign countries, (Spain, England, France, and others), there have been diseases that have been brought , that have killed thousands upon thousands of the indigenous population. All of this was before the arrival of the pilgrims. Then you have the army spreading smallpox through blankets to wipe the rest out. Against all these odds, we have survived.

Can any developer, 100%, guarantee the safety of any person going onto this site, against all diseases? I ask this because in North Gwinnett County of Ga., a site that also contained a mass grave of children, on the National Historic Registry, in the middle of a 2,000 acre area of burials was disturbed by a single bulldozer. The bulldozer operator died on the bulldozer with it still running. (He did not have a heart attack or anything else wrong they could detect. A 35-year old officer that just drove by the area to make sure the "scene" was still secure and the area not disturbed, fell ill the next day and 8 days later died in Emory. Hundreds of people fell ill. Most were either young children, older people or those with medical conditions. A lot or people in this category died. All this, just right before the Olympics in Ga. All of the suffering could have been avoided, if that one person had not opened the burial.

(6th) Does all the Cherokee heritage have to be wiped off the face of the Earth? I certainly hope not.

(7th) Do people respect the final resting place of those departed? I hope so. It used to be only the Native graves that were robbed, pillaged, destroyed, then the African- American, and last but not least, now the White graves.

Are the developers so greedy for money that they are blinded to any morals? This sure seems to be the case. There is only one problem with this; they too are going to pass on one day, and most people still prefer to be buried. Who will protect their final resting place??????

(8th) The airport authority is getting its money from a Federal grant, so the Eastern Band of Cherokee, Western Band of Cherokee and the Keetowah Band of Cherokee MUST under Section 106 be contacted and their wishes HAVE to be followed.

Please consider the above, before making any hasty decisions. After the graves are destroyed they can not be brought back. That history, my heritage, will be lost forever.

Thank you,
Sharon L. Kitchen

-- Action Alert Update --
By Dave Kitchen
March 8, 2009, 1:20 p.m. PT --

Time to act is running out. Letters to the EPA are needed before March 17th when comments will no longer be accepted. They must be sent to:

Joseph Barkovitch c/o N.C. Dept. of Administration, 1301 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1301 Reference: Sch#09E00000216 type:NEPA
Applicant: Macon County Airport Authority
Desc: Airport Project Region:A
County: Macon

Just state how you feel about them building on burials and the site of origin of the Cherokee people.

Phone calls to the Macon County Commissioners will also be good also.This meeting is this coming Monday, March 9th, 2009 at 6pm.So it's important to act now!

Please pass this on!!!!!

Save The Sacred Sites Burial Site Alert- Very Important!!!!!!!!!!

My friends and family:
This is the site where the Cherokee people began. Many are buried here from ancient times. Please call, fax, etc... to let those in charge know that this is totally unacceptable.


Source: Save the Sacred Sites Alliance

Native Rights News is publishing this presss release with the express permission of the author and publisher. This article is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information. Distribution of this material is for research and educational purposes that will promote social and economic justice and benefit society.

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