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Big Cove Road in Cherokee slowed to a standstill last week as traffic backed up for more than a mile, en route to Cherokee Central School and the Grand Council meeting that Principal Chief Patrick Lambert had called for 1 p.m. Tuesday, April 18. The spacious parking lot at Cherokee Central School, where the event was to be held, quickly reached capacity. Some drivers pulled off to park on any patch of roadside grass or gravel available, while others pushed a little further to park at the old high school, where a shuttle would ferry them to the meeting.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians held its first Grand Council in 20 years yesterday, with traffic backing up for more than a mile down Big Cove Road as tribal members flocked to the event, held at Cherokee High School.

The Cherokee Tribal Court has denied a complaint that Councilmember Teresa McCoy, of Big Cove, filed asking that the court restrain the Tribal Council from taking certain types of actions.

More than a year of tension and fighting within the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians government will come to a head this week, with a hearing for impeachment charges against Principal Chief Patrick Lambert slated for Thursday, April 20, and Lambert calling a Grand Council of all enrolled members for Tuesday, April 18, in an attempt to save his position. 

But, while some big decisions about the future of the tribe could be made by this time next week, the political fallout will likely take much longer to resolve. Much is uncertain about the events ahead — impeachments are rare, Grand Councils even rarer, and many of the laws pertaining to how they are conducted and what power they have are unclear, at best.

The articles of impeachment passed by the Cherokee Tribal Council on April 6 outline seven grounds on which to remove Principal Chief Patrick Lambert from office. In a Facebook post, Lambert offered a counterpoint to each accusation. 

From the moment April’s Tribal Council session began — 8:30 a.m. sharp on the sixth — the Cherokee Council House was packed. Tribal members filled the seats and stood against the walls leading out to the lobby, where chairs in front of a TV broadcasting the meeting inside quickly reached capacity. Faces bearing expressions of sadness, or anticipation, or grim resignation, they waited for the action to start. 

Much of Western North Carolina’s native history is hidden in plain sight along the Tennessee River Valley from Otto to Bryson City.

The race for Cherokee Tribal Council will feature 45 candidates competing for 12 seats around the horseshoe table when the new session begins in October.

The last known footprint of the slant-eyed giant Judaculla is not easy to get to.

First, there’s the drive to Wolf Laurel Trailhead, which takes about an hour to reach from Robbinsville up a steep and rutted U.S. Forest Service road that winds past tumbling waterfalls and an intersection with the Appalachian Trail before reaching the parking lot. Then there’s the hike — 3.5 miles of steep uphills offset by rocky downhills pieced together with the occasional stretch of level ground, often while traversing a narrow ridgeline with slopes falling steeply to either side.

The widow of former Vice Chief Bill Ledford is refusing to move after Tribal Council’s January vote to strike the portion of his will that left her the house, and now a May 1 date in the Cherokee Tribal Court will determine the final outcome.

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  • Books that help bridge the political divide
    Books that help bridge the political divide Time for spring-cleaning.  The basement apartment in which I live could use a deep cleaning: dusting, washing, vacuuming. It’s tidy enough — chaos and I were never friends — but stacks of papers need sorting, bookcases beg to see their occupants removed and the shelves…
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