Published On: Tue, Dec 11th, 2018

Two EBCI land-into-trust applications are progressing, Cooper’s Creek in final approval mode

 

The United States Department of Interior, per the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, has the authority to put land into trust on behalf of federally recognized tribes across the country.  The average application process spans years, and on some occasions decades, due to the bureaucratic systems in place. Factors that increase the speed of the application process include the use of the land for housing or cultural activities.

Resolutions #483 (1996), #639 (2001), #1030 (2005) authorized the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to purchase property at Cooper’s Creek for the purposes of Housing.  Resolution #343 (1996) authorized the EBCI to purchase Kituwah Mound for the purposes of cultural activities.  Progress in having these lands put into trust has been slow since these purchases.

The above map shows, in red, a 284-acre parcel of land known as Cooper’s Creek. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is in the final approval process for having this land put into trust by the federal government. (Graphic contributed)

The survey for the Cooper’s Creek parcel began in 2005, with little to no progress.  Upon taking office, Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed prioritized this issue and saw to the completion of the survey for the property.  The EBCI Realty Office has now finalized the survey, completed the requested corrections from the BIA, and the survey will go to the Solicitor’s Office in Knoxville, Tenn. for approval.  The Solicitor has assured the Tribe of approval of the survey, after which the application will go to the BIA in Nashville to receive approval from Bruce Maytubby.

The parcel at Cooper’s Creek is approximately 284 acres, providing over 100 house sites according to a 2005 proposal from a development company in Asheville.  The approval of the Trust application will give EBCI tribal members that purchase this property the full benefits of living on the Qualla Boundary.

“Upon entering in to the position of Principal Chief I worked to prioritize this application process,” said Chief Sneed.  “I am proud that the EBCI has realized this significant progress these past several months.  At the start of my term, I tasked our Housing Division with assisting 100 Cherokee families realize their dreams of becoming home owners and have made this a priority throughout my term as Principal Chief.  I am pleased this land will soon be available to assist in seeing out this priority.”

The property at Cooper’s Creek was prioritized over the Kituwah Mound parcel due to the positive impact on housing for tribal members.  The survey for the property at Kituwah Mound has been completed and is awaiting approval in Nashville, Tenn. before being sent to the Solicitor’s Office, and significant progress regarding this application process is expected in the next year.

– Office of the Principal Chief release

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