Exemplifying a long-term shift in vision and truth-telling, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution at their Aug. 2 regular meeting showing unanimous support for the efforts of the tribal council of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to restore the name of Kuwohi to the mountain presently known as Clingman’s Dome.
This support echoes the acknowledgement that the area currently known as Buncombe County rests on land that was first inhabited by the Cherokee, their ancestors, and other Indigenous peoples.
Commissioner Parker Sloan shares: “The culture and language of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee exists today because of great determination of tribal members and their ancestors. For example, Kuwohi was a place where the Cherokee took refuge to avoid being taken from their homes during the Trail of Tears and therefore has great historical significance to them. The ancestral name of this mountain has been passed down orally through generations despite the forced attendance at boarding schools where they were not allowed to learn about their culture or their native language. To the Cherokee this mountain has always been called Kuwohi and they have asked us, the people of Buncombe County and our government, to join them in their efforts to restore the original Cherokee name of Kuwohi to the mountain presently known as “Clingmans Dome.” Buncombe County applauds our Indigenous neighbors’ efforts and extends our sincere support.”
Several people spoke in support of the resolution during public comment sharing that this type of restoring a name to ancestral language goes beyond just recognizing the importance of a name. Buncombe County’s Register of Deeds also shared, “While it’s a small ask from our Cherokee neighbors it feels like an important step for our government to take.
The resolution reads in part:
Whereas, Buncombe County is committed to creating an inclusive community that celebrates diversity and ensures all residents have equitable opportunities to lead healthy, peaceful, safe, and sustainable lives;
Whereas, on the 16th day of November 2021, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners proclaimed an effort to celebrate Indigenous people, we also acknowledged our nation’s history of colonialism that has inflicted great discrimination and genocide upon Indigenous people and recognize that truth must come before reconciliation; …
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Commissioners for the County of Buncombe as follows:
That this Board hereby declares its support of any and all efforts of the Tribal Council of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to restore the name Kuwohi to the mountain presently known as "Clingmans Dome."
Read the entire resolution here.
Learn more about the history of Cherokee land cessions and the formation of Buncombe County in this special project by the Buncombe County Register of Deeds: As Long as the Grass Shall Grow.