The N.C. Utilities Commission this afternoon resolved a long-simmering dispute over an electric utiltiy's plans to build a substation and transmission lines near a Cherokee holy site in Western North Carolina.
The commission closed the matter and reaffirmed Duke Energy's plans to build the substation and power lines. The matter became moot last year after Charlotte-based Duke found an alternate site, out of view from the sacred valley the Cherokees refer to as Kituwah.
However, the Utilities Commission was left with a challenge filed in 2010 by the Swain County Commission and by an ad-hoc group calling itself Citizens to Protect Kituwah Valley. The Commission said today the issue is resolved, but if those groups have still have concerns, "they will need to pursue that remedy in the appropriate court."
The Eastern Band of Cherokee had been alarmed by the proposed location of the original site, but the tribe had not challenged the project before the Utilities Commission. The tribe, numbering some 14,000 members in this state, approved of Duke's alternate site in Swain County, and the Utilities Commission approved Duke's $3.7 million project in June.
Kituwah, a valley near Bryson City, is the birthplace of the Cherokee nation, according to oral lore. Its significance and symbolism are comparable to that of the Garden of Eden.