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Compromise could still be reached on deed issue
First, let me disclose that the following is my opinion only, and not the opinion of any member of the Franklin Town Council.
The controversy and tug of war over the Town’s 1946 deed to the Nikwasi Mound is becoming more contentious daily.
As the mayor, I have reached out to Mainspring, which is closely intertwined with the Nikwasi Initiative, to see if we could reach a compromise which would cool everything down and give everyone time to study concrete plans for East Franklin. So far, I haven’t gotten a positive reply although I have the feeling there could still be some give and take on my request. I have not given up on a compromise which both sides could buy into to calm the issue.
I spoke briefly Monday night with Cherokee Chief Richard Sneed to see if there was any possibility to meet with him to discuss the Mound. So far we have been unable to schedule a meeting.
I have also tried to find out why the deed is the sticking point in this situation at this time. I feel everything that Mainspring and the Nikwasi Initiative might have in mind hinges on the transfer of the deed to them, although they have said the town will be a partner.
I am in favor of revitalizing East Franklin, but I have concerns about turning over the deed until we have clarification what it means to the Town.
As of now, I can find no record that the town has formally joined the Initiative although, in July 2017, the town awarded the Initiative $12,500 for “Start Up Funds.”
In fiscal year 2018, the Town awarded the Initiative $5,000 more for “Nikwasi Initiative Support.”
To date the Town has awarded the Initiative $17,500.
In their Articles of Incorporation, the mission of the Nikwasi Initiative states “The Nikwasi Initiative is dedicated to preserving the sense of place of the Nikwasi Mound, and expanding the understanding of the mound and the surrounding area through improved access, interpretation and education activities. Using engaged partnerships, it will focus on developing cultural interpretation resources for the nationally significant cultural corridor from Cherokee to Franklin and to the headwaters of the Little Tennessee River, and encouraging sustainable economic growth of the entire corridor area.”
I support the Initiative’s mission, however, I cannot understand why their mission cannot be reached by allowing the Town to hold onto the deed until we have a better grasp of where the Initiative is going with their proposal – which was originally to be for economic development.
The deed is now the issue.
Town of Franklin Mayor Bob Scott
Things have changed since 18th century
If the Nikwasi Indian Mound could talk, I think an early lesson would be, “Things change.” The Cherokee townhouse on top became a field hospital before being burned by the British army that also destroyed 15 Cherokee towns in 1762.
In 1946, the Macon County Historical Society, a local nonprofit, was formed to raise money to purchase and preserve the mound. The Society deeded the mound to the Town of Franklin. Clearly, the town has protected and maintained it. Those school children and other donors did a great, wise deed.
In 2019, there is a proposal to transfer the deed to the Nikwasi Initiative, a local nonprofit formed to raise money to preserve and maintain the mound – and make the area near the mound more attractive. It can become a place where the children and grandchildren of those original 1946 donors come to relax, play, and learn more about the rich heritage of this place.
Local control will be shared, not lost
The new non-profit Nikwasi Initiative will have board members from the town, county, MainSpring, and the Cherokee. That means the majority of the board will be from Franklin and Macon County organizations. MainSpring was originally named Land Trust for the Little Tennessee. Its office is just down from the mound. For more than 20 years, it has helped preserve and care for important lands.
Who will pay?
With these four organizations working together through Nikwasi Initiative, the new non-profit can qualify for grants that none could get alone. Some grants have already been received and other applications depend on the proposed deed transfer.
How will this benefit the Town of Franklin? For starters, Nikwasi Initiative will assume responsibility for maintenance now done by the town. A byproduct of the planned improvements will be some East Franklin revitalization beyond the means of the town. More visitors will stop and spend vacation dollars here, rather than bypassing the town. The improved mound area will forever be in the town. It will be like getting a new park!
Can the deed be transferred? Yes. The conditions and requirements accepted by the town in that 1946 deed would apply to the nonprofit Nikwasi Initiative. With board members from the town and county, as well as MainSpring, they will be accountable. Of course, all of who live here can see what is done. We will all be free to say what we think about it to elected officials and members of the nonprofit board, too.
Fred Alexander – Franklin, N.C.
Town did with the Mound what it was charged to do
I feel compelled to respond to the article in the Wed. March 20 edition of The Franklin Press in which Barbara McRae is quoted as saying “there are misperceptions about how the process would work and that people are lost in all the details, real and imagined.” She says that the initiative is “required to have equal representation from Franklin, Macon and the EBCI. She says that “the concern about Franklin maintaining control is misplaced.” She fails to explain why she thinks it is necessary for the town to make over the deed to the Nikwasi Mound to the Nikwasi Initiative. In the Wed. March 13 edition of The Franklin Press, Russell Townsend, the tribe’s Historical Preservation officer is quoted as saying, “It appears to be a positive step forward. We’ve been doing our best to bring that back into tribal hands and under tribal control.” This makes it very clear what the goal of the EBCI is.
Barbara McRae is quoted as saying that “the vision of the initiative is to create a historical trail, a driving trail, that will offer people the opportunity to visit important sites in our common history.” So, again, I would ask, why is it necessary for the initiative to have the deed to the mound in their name to enable people to drive by and view the mound?
She says that in 73 years of ownership the town has never done anything but mow and pick up the trash. By the terms set out in the deed, that is all they were charged with doing. “To preserve for the citizens of Macon County and for posterity and the same shall be kept as it now stands and shall not be excavated, explored, altered, or impaired in any way or used for any commercial purpose, and shall be kept as a monument to the early history of Macon County.” The Town of Franklin has until the present time lived up to the trust that was placed with it back in 1946. I would be very sorry to see that trust broken now. I also wonder if this issue is not a conflict of interest for Barbara McRae being the co-chair of the Nikwasi Initiative and the vice mayor of the Town of Franklin?
As far the commercial development that “was not real attractive for the most part,” we must remember that these people were using their own property to run a business and make a living, which they had every right to do. I understand that the offending property is now owned by the EBCI and they have every right to use the property however they see fit, within the law, of course. Why would this not be an appropriate place for kiosks and signage, if that is what is desired?
As to the Cherokee being impoverished back in the 1940s, for the most part, so were the citizens of Macon County and it must have been a sacrifice for many to have donated to this effort. It was only because they felt it was important to preserve this part of the early history of Macon County from being leveled that they did make the sacrifice and tried their best to assure the future of the mound by entrusting it to the stewardship of the Town of Franklin. The Town of Franklin has been a good steward of this trust until now and I hope that will continue as it was intended and agreed to back in 1946.
Margie L. Keener – Franklin, N.C.
Money games with the powerful is nothing new
Well, back home from Florida. I know, who cares, but it’s good to be back.
Now why I am writing is this big deal of the movie stars and the powerful playing money games with colleges and their kids. To me, that’s a joke. Thirty years ago when I ran a union in Florida, many times a year on our trips to Tallahassee, Fla., to deliver envelopes with a check made out to a college for a senator or congressman’s daughter or son.
Twice a year in Washington, the same thing happens.
If you thought this is new, hell, we have been feeding politicians’ families since the world began. Don’t you think big business has put a few politicans’ kids through college? Come on. Wake up. It’s how the world works and it’s not going to change.
Wm Trapani – Franklin, N.C.
A look at what’s under the ‘Socialism’ umbrella
We have heard lately about how the precipitous dangers of Socialism are undermining the American culture. We are rightfully leery of any extreme form of political governance, such as Communism, Fascism, Theocracies, or Autocracies. But before we can the judge the influence of Socialism on our society, we need to understand that there are many versions of Socialism under the “Socialism” umbrella.
On one end of the scale is Totalitarian Communism, a form of autocracy where self-serving political power is concentrated in a small group of political leaders who manage the social and economic policies of a society with an iron hand. On the other end of the Socialism spectrum is the Social Market Economy, which is associated with European economies. Certain aspects of this model are supported by members from all American political parties. The Social Market Economy combines a free market capitalist economic system alongside social policies that establish both fair competition within the market and a welfare state. The Social Market Economy was designed to be a third way between laissez-faire economic liberalism and socialist economics. It was inspired by the tradition of Christian ethics. The Social Market Economy is a comprehensive economic policy which can influence the economy, but specifically does not plan and guide production, the workforce, or sales. Effectively combining monetary, credit, trade, tax, customs, investment and social policies as well as other measures, this type of economic policy creates an economy that serves the welfare and needs of the entire population.
The Social Market approach rejects the replacing of private property and markets with social ownership and economic planning. The “social” element to the model instead refers to support for the provision of equal opportunity and protection of those unable to enter the free market labor force because of old-age, disability, or unemployment. These are some of the guiding principals that has shaped the social contract between the Federal government and its constituents, the American people.
The influence of the Social Market approach is illustrated by these examples: the GI Bill implemented at the end of WWII, which subsidized the cost of higher education for soldiers returning from the war; the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees the equal protection of the laws; Social Security, a retirement system funded by American citizens and managed by the federal government; Federal regulations intended to limit the harmful pollution of our water and air by businesses, local, state, and federal governments, and individuals.
The notion that capital economies and social economies are mutually exclusive and competing in a zero sum game is simply not true. Our American economy has been shaped by principals derived from both judicious implementation of features from both Capitalism and Socialism. Fomenting fear and mistrust by spinning a view that these influences, from either side, are detrimental to our society and only serves efforts to divide and alienate whole segments of our political culture.
John Barry – Franklin, N.C.