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Cherokee Burial Ground Decision

Cherokee Tribal leaders want what is believed to be a burial ground in Macon County, left alone.

Workers building the new Parker Meadows Recreation Park uncovered the remains while clearing land for a ball park. An archeologist believes the remains date back to the 1700's and are Native American.

Macon County and Tribal leaders met Monday in Cherokee to discuss how to proceed with the project. The head of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians says the tribe wants the remains left alone. "We've got a good partnership.  We'll just see what they come back with.  Hopefully it accommodates our request," says Chief Michell Hicks. "And this being their ancestors, we're going to adhere to their wishes," says Macon Commissioner Ronnie Beale.

Macon County leaders say they'll go back to the drawing board and look at other designs for the ball fields that would not disturb the grave site. "We're going to go back to the drawing board sit down with our engineers and find a real cost," says Macon County Manager Derek Roland.

Roland says re-surveying and re-designing the ball fields will add to the cost of the $3.3 million project. But he says respecting cultures is the right thing to do.

That's a perspective is shared by Mark Downing, a Cherokee from Oklahoma, on the North Carolina reservation for the first time. "Because you wouldn't want anybody digging up your ancestors, your grandmas and grandpas and put a baseball field on their cemetery."

Macon County leaders say they'll meet with engineers and architects Wednesday morning to discuss options for reconfiguring the recreation park.

By Rex Hodge
Follow Rex on Twitter @RexHodgeWLOS


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