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State closes desecration case against Cherokee's sacred valley

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."

Duke Energy to build away from Cherokee holy site

State regulators have given Duke Energy the go-ahead to to build a transmission link in western North Carolina, ending a cultural disagreement between the Charlotte power company and the Eastern Band of Cherokees over the proposed location the electrical equipment.

Duke had originally proposed building the 100-foot-tall transmission towers and electrical relay station within view of a Cherokee holy site that is held by legend as the birthplace of the Cherokee nation. The tribe regarded Duke's proposal as a desecration.

The company has since agreed to build the $3.7 million project on an alternate site in Swain County, several miles west of Kituwah.

Approval from the N.C. Utilities Commission was the last obstacle Duke needed to clear in order to proceed with the project.

Duke Energy won't build near sacred Cherokee site

Duke Energy said this afternoon it will not build an electric substation in view of a sacred Cherokee mound in Western North Carolina.

The Charlotte-based power company said it will select one of two alternate sites after further engineering studies and permitting reviews.

The state's biggest electric utility, with 1.8 million customers in North Carolina, had been heading for a showdown with Cherokee tribe members and Swain County officials over the holy site, known as Kituwah.

Duke Energy defends substation plans near sacred Cherokee site

Duke Energy says it's becoming a matter of urgency to build a new substation and transmission line in western North Carolina, but the company many have no choice than to build near a Cherokee holy site that Cherokees are seeking to protect from desecration.

The Charlotte electric utility defended its actions before the N.C. Utilities Commission in a filing made late Monday, warning that delays and inaction will lead to power blackouts.

Opponents have asked the state regulatory body in Raleigh to block Duke's plans to build electrical equipment within view of Kituwah, a Cherokee sacred site that's on the National Register of Historic Places and described by the Cherokees as their Garden of Eden.

"The Company must take action," Duke told the utilities commission. "A loss of a transformer under the current configuration, and without the upgrade, could result in an outage lasting several days, or at a minimum, rotating blackouts."

Unto These Hills

Video: "Unto These Hills" tells the story of the forced evacuation of the Cherokees from the mountains of North Carolina. It's one of the ... more

Unto These Hills

Video: "Unto These Hills" tells the story of the forced evacuation of the Cherokees from the mountains of North Carolina. It's one of the ... more

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