Published On: Fri, Mar 28th, 2014

Cherokee Cultural Center opens in Hayesville

Sandy Nicollette (left), one of the directors of the Clay County Communities Revitilization Association, presents a plaque to Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, Cherokee Preservation Foundation executive director, and Principal Chief Michell Hicks during a dedication ceremony for the Cherokee Cultural Center at the Moss Library in Hayesville on Friday, March 28.  (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

Sandy Nicollette (left), one of the directors of the Clay County Communities Revitilization Association, presents a plaque to Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, Cherokee Preservation Foundation executive director, and Principal Chief Michell Hicks during a dedication ceremony for the Cherokee Cultural Center at the Moss Library in Hayesville on Friday, March 28. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather photos)

By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.

ONE FEATHER STAFF

 

HAYESVILLE – The Cherokee Cultural Center, located within the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, was officially dedicated on Friday, March 28.  The Center is a main project of the Clay County Communities Revitalization Association (CCCRA) and was made possible through a grant from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.

Following speeches by several dignitaries, EBCI tribal member and fluent Cherokee speaker Emma Garrett offered a prayer in the Cherokee language to properly dedicate the Center.

Sandy Nicollette, one of the directors of CCCRA, hatched the idea for the Center several years ago after she had purchased some Cherokee baskets and pottery pieces.  She proposed the idea to the Library Board who loved it and voted to move forward with the project.

People peruse the Center following Friday's dedication.

People peruse the Center following Friday’s dedication.

“The Board said we want it right up front, right by the door because it’s so important to the history of our area,” she said.  “We are thrilled that we are able to share the culture, and we are honored that you will allow us to do that.”

Principal Chief Michell Hicks commented, “We appreciate the respect that you all are displaying to us.  We’re proud to be Cherokee today.  We do a lot for the region, and we have a lot of partners.”

Chief Hicks said he is proud that the Tribe and its entities are able to provide around 4,600 jobs at the moment, a number that will increase to over 5,400 by this time next year.

“We could be selfish, but we’re not.  Cherokees are not selfish.  We love these kinds of partnerships.”

The entrance to the Cherokee Culture Center is emblazoned with a photo of Diamond Brown Jr., former Snowbird – Cherokee County representative.

The entrance to the Cherokee Culture Center is emblazoned with a photo of Diamond Brown Jr., former Snowbird – Cherokee County representative.

Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, Cherokee Preservation Foundation executive director, said, “This is exactly the type of project that we like to partner on for the region because the CCCRA and Moss Library have not only done a great job of engaging the local community here in Clay County but also the Eastern Band and making sure they are good stewards of the materials.”

She added, “A lot of times people talk about Cherokee preservation, and to us, that’s a component to our culture, but, more importantly revitalization is important to our culture.  We consider Cherokee culture to be a living culture.  So, that means to have to teach it.  We have to share it, and we have to practice the key components of our culture.”

Miss Cherokee Madison Crowe related, “It’s such an honor to be a part of an event that really does spread the word on our culture.  I think this new Center will allow people to educate themselves on Cherokee history and culture.”

Rob Tiger, one of the directors of CCCRA, was instrumental in helping get the Center established.  He thanked many organizations including the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Handmade in America, Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, North Carolina Arts Council, Clay County, and the Town of Hayesville.

“We’ve had a lot of regional and local support,” he noted.  “We’ve had a lot of help from Eastern Band of Cherokee tribal members.”

Tiger said education was the forefront of the idea from the get-go.  “We realized the proper thing was to go to the Tribe and illicit their help.  It’s been a great learning experience for me and for everyone involved in this project.  I just want to thank all of the tribal members and our partners who helped make this happen.”

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said, “but, it’s been a lot of work.  One thing that is important to me is that we try to teach a more factual history.”

The entrance to the Center is emblazoned with a portrait of Diamond Brown Jr., former Snowbird – Cherokee County representative who is a full-time Cherokee educator.  He was present at Friday’s event and commented, “I really appreciate Hayesville because of what they do for the Cherokees.  To me, it seems that they are proud of the Cherokees and it shows.”

For more information on the Cherokee Cultural Center, call the Moss Library (828) 389-8401.

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