Holly Kays

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Less than a year after founder Kent Cranford sold his three Motion Makers Bicycles stores to Specialized Bicycles, the company announced a sudden decision to pull out of the Cherokee location it had shared with Bryson City Outdoors since 2020. 

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When Cherokee Nation member Brit Hensel got hired for the camera department of FX’s Reservation Dogs, her resume was short and her list of film industry connections even shorter. She’d never worked on a show of that caliber before, but its creator Sterlin Harjo took a chance on her.

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Wolfetown Rep. Bo Crowe has announced his resignation from the Tribal Council seat he’s held since 2013. The announcement follows a Jan. 6 incident that resulted in Crowe facing three criminal charges, two of which are felonies.

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In January, Principal Chief Richard Sneed made the unusual move of nominating a man who is attempting to unseat him in the September 2023 tribal election for a position on one of the tribe’s most powerful commissions — but Robert Osley Saunooke has turned down the appointment.

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Starting March 1, Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitors will have to pay to park. As the date approaches and annual parking tags go on sale, park management is working to iron out the details and communicate them to the public.

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The U.S. Forest Service has completed its review of 891 objections to the Pisgah-Nantahala forest management plan it released a year ago, clearing the final hurdle to implement the first new forest plan since 1987.

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Western Carolina University can now draw up to one-quarter of its first-year undergraduates from out of state, following a Jan. 19 vote from the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

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As the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians prepares to launch its medical marijuana program, cannabis was the main topic of conversation in Tribal Council this month. The body discussed six resolutions and ordinances Jan. 12 related to cannabis laws and the boards and LLC leading the industry.  

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Swain County Emergency Management today released audio from a 911 call that sheds light on the circumstances leading up to the death of beloved community member Lambert Wilson. Wilson died from gunshot wounds Oct. 20 at the El Camino Motel in Cherokee, which he owned.  

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The U.S. Forest Service has completed its review of 891 objections to the Pisgah-Nantahala forest management plan it released a year ago, clearing the final hurdle to implement the first new forest plan since 1987.

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Even as an elementary school kid, Chris Cable hated school. It felt pointless, and so boring that he struggled to stay awake. Cable wanted to be a state trooper when he grew up — why did he need to know about algebra and essay-writing?   

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Bill Taylor, a former chairman and member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council, pleaded guilty Monday, Jan. 9, in a case stemming from an Oct. 6 domestic dispute at his home in Cherokee.

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Usually, talk around conservation and forest management focuses on big chunks of public land like the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, not smaller parcels of private acreage. According to Lang Hornthal, co-executive director of the nonprofit EcoForesters, that needs to change — added together, those smaller parcels cover enormous swaths of land. 

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Wolfetown Rep. Bo Crowe spent the weekend in jail following his arrest Saturday, Jan. 7, for an alleged assault that left the victim unconscious — but he will not be resigning his position on Tribal Council. 

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For the first time in 22 years, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will conduct a census of its tribal members. 

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For more than a year, Canton residents have complained about a gritty white dust from the Evergreen Packaging paper mill clinging to their cars and driveways — and they’re still complaining.

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From new parks to big birthdays to policy overhauls, 2022 has been a year of change and major milestones for the outdoors in Western North Carolina. Here’s my best stab at outlining some of the biggest news to enter the region’s outdoor world this year.

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Update: Shortly after press time Dec. 20, the Jackson County Clerk of Court released an order sealing the 911 records for an additional 30 days. The order was filed at 3:18 p.m. Dec. 20, 31 hours after the previous sealing order had lifted and The Smoky Mountain News had submitted a renewed request to obtain them. The order, which this time was released as a public document, places both the 911 records and the state’s petition to seal them under seal. 

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Update: According to Interim Fire Chief Thomas Simmons, the fire's cause has been deterimined to be accidental, due to an appliance left on in the building. The appliance is not yet being named, as the department is waiting for engineers to make a final determination.

Kituwah LLC CEO Mark Hubble was just going back to sleep after a night in the emergency room when his phone rang. The headquarters for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ multi-million-dollar business arm was on fire.

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In the Dec. 15 special election filling two vacant Tribal Council seats, Cherokee voters favored candidates with careers in business and finance rather than those with legislative experience.

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The Kituwah LLC building has been destroyed in a fire that started during the early morning hours of Thursday, Dec. 15.

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As Christmas 1900 approached, ornithologist Frank Chapman hatched an idea. 

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Brandon Tyler Buchanan, 25, of Cherokee is now facing new criminal charges in addition to the first-degree murder charge he faces in the death of Kobe Toineeta, also a 25-year-old from Cherokee. 

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Cherokee’s recently created medical cannabis LLC will likely have $63 million at its disposal as it prepares for its first year of retail sales, thanks to a vote from Tribal Council Thursday, Dec. 8. The body also acted to set pay rates for the board of managers at Qualla Enterprises LLC and fill two vacant board seats.

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Western Carolina University is ahead of the pack on employee satisfaction, according to the results of a survey to University of North Carolina System faculty and staff.

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Joel Sartore lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, but he — and his camera — are constantly on the move.

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“Extraordinary” inflation and the need to match state salary increases will prompt increases to the cost of attendance at Western Carolina University next year, according to the 2023-2024 schedule of tuition and fees the Board of Trustees adopted at their Dec. 2 meeting. 

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Shortly after the 1835 Christmas holiday celebrating peace and good will toward men, U.S. government officials met with a group of 500 Cherokee leaders at New Echota, Georgia, and signed a treaty that led to the tribe’s cruel eviction via the Trail of Tears.

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New data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis show that 2021 was a year of growth for the outdoor economy in North Carolina — but that the industry is still working to make up ground it lost during the pandemic. 

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Tribal members Lavita Hill and Mary Crowe have received an Attorney General’s Dogwood Award from N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein for their work to restore the traditional Cherokee name to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

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On Thursday, Dec. 15, Cherokee voters will head to the polls for a special election that will seat two new representatives on the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council.

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A wildfire reported Wednesday, Nov. 23, in the Harmon Den area of Haywood County was still burning with no containment as of Monday, Nov. 28, estimated at 150 acres.

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Twenty-two years ago, Janet Hensley, now 59, was working in guest services at a new hotel in her hometown of Erwin, Tennessee.

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As voting hours ended on Election Day 2020, talking heads waiting for results to roll in filled the TV airwaves with speculation based on the exit polling data before them. What might it mean for the final results, and for the future of the American presidency?

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After months of discussion and deliberation, Mainspring Conservation Trust and Northbrook Carolina Hydro II have signed an agreement allowing Mainspring to purchase the aging Ela Dam in Swain County — paving the way for dam removal efforts to progress.

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In a unanimous vote during Annual Council Monday, Oct. 24, the Cherokee Tribal Council passed an ordinance to strengthen the tribe’s ability to enforce its banishment rules. It’s been refining the legislation since March and discussing the topic for much longer.

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The Cherokee Indian Police Department is seeking information about the whereabouts of Kyria Neal Swayney, a 16-year-old girl who was last seen Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Swayney is five-foot-seven and weighs about 140 pounds. The CIPD has classifies her case as a runaway case. Call 828.497.4131 with information.  

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The Cherokee community is mourning the death of Kobe Toineeta, 25, who died by homicide Friday, Nov. 11. 

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Voters in Cherokee’s Dec. 15 special election will choose from a crowded field of candidates seeking to fill two unexpected vacancies on Tribal Council.

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Sept. 27, 2021, was a day of constant phone calls and email notifications for Brendan Davey, regional supervisor at the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality office in Asheville.

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Sometime around 1940, a red spruce seedling pushed above the forest floor in southern Haywood County. Its roots drank from the moist soil, and each year the tree grew taller and stronger.

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This fall, Western Carolina University will launch a pilot program that guarantees undergraduate students up to $3,000 per year in scholarships over the course of their four-year college career. Called Catamount Commitment, the program is a repackaging of Western’s existing scholarship resources that aims to help students and their parents better count the cost of college before enrolling.

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The Cherokee Tribal Council allocated an additional $1.38 million to Cherokee Central Schools during an Oct. 24 Annual Council session, increasing the school system’s minimum wage to $15 per hour and giving employees a cost-of-living increase.

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During an Oct. 17 Annual Council meeting, the Cherokee Tribal Council approved an ordinance that strengthens ethics laws for tribal officials — but struck a proposed change that would have restricted their activity for a year after leaving office.

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The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is a key partner in a $55 million effort to bring the state’s first track dedicated to quarterhorse racing to a 200-acre property outside of Ashland, Kentucky, with a groundbreaking ceremony held Friday, Oct. 28.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Rob Saunooke is banned from practicing law on the Qualla Boundary. While Judge Sharon Barrett did issue a March 2018 ruling preventing him from practicing law on tribal lands unless specifically permitted by a court order, the Cherokee Supreme Court later vacated Barrett’s order.

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When Cheryl Hillis started managing vacation rentals in Haywood County 15 years ago, Airbnb didn’t exist, reservations were made with phone calls and mailed checks, and she lived nowhere near Western North Carolina. Hillis was the face of Buffalo Creek Vacations, but she took reservations and managed payments from whichever town her military husband and their four boys lived at the time.

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During Annual Council Oct. 24, Tribal Council approved “Project Coda,” a $324 million effort to control “a brand recognized worldwide” and invest in multiple resorts to be developed across the country.

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In a unanimous vote Monday, Oct. 17, the Cherokee Tribal Council passed an ordinance that prohibits begging and panhandling in a variety of locations and situations on the Qualla Boundary.

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Former Tribal Council Rep. Dennis Edward “Bill” Taylor is now facing a fourth charge in the domestic violence case that spurred his Oct. 16 resignation from office representing Wolfetown and Big Y.

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