Two construction projects that threatened ancient sites sacred to American Indians in the Southeast are on hold for now, and further action is planned to keep them from moving forward.
In North Carolina, Duke Energy's plans to build an electrical substation near the sacred Cherokee site of Kituwah have been halted temporarily by the local county government while a more permanent solution is sought.
Earlier this month, the Swain County Board of Commissioners voted for a 90-day moratorium on electrical and mobile telephone towers to give staff time to look into an ordinance to regulate their construction and require public input before they're built.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians raised concerns that the substation would disrupt the view of Kituwah, the site of a sacred mound near the Tuckasegee River in western North Carolina. Kituwah is considered the Cherokee mother town, believed to have been inhabited for nearly 10,000 years and long used as a center for religious rituals.
EBCI Principal Chief Michell Hicks told the Asheville Citizen-Times that the moratorium will provide a chance for the tribe to present alternatives to the planned substation, which as originally designed would be only about 200 yards from Kituwah.
In Alabama, meanwhile, construction of a municipal sports complex in the city of Oxford have been halted following the discovery of ancient American Indian remains at the site -- and the failure to report the finding to the proper authorities.
Last month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shut down the project after it learned that it had not been notified about the remains, which were discovered back in January, the Anniston Star reports. The wetlands permit for the site required the Corps to be notified if any remains or artifacts were found.
The mistake is proving costly for the city, which so far has shelled out about $200,000 to compensate the contractor for the stalled work. An Indian mound that had been located near the sports complex site has reportedly disappeared completely.
The sports complex site is near another sacred mound that was damaged last year during the development of a Sam's Club -- a retail warehouse store that's part of the Arkansas-based Wal-Mart chain -- at the Oxford Exchange shopping center.
The Woodland and Mississippian cultures that inhabited the Southeast before the arrival of Europeans constructed and used such mounds for various religious rituals, including funerals.
Meanwhile, a prayer meeting/protest action is planned for this Saturday, March 27 at the still-standing mound in Oxford.
The Strong Heart Preservation Movement, one of the grassroots efforts that sprung up in the wake of the controversies in Oxford, has posted this announcement to its Facebook page:
This Saturday at 10 AM we are all heading up to the stone mound behind the exchange for a "prayer meeting"...or at least, Oxford thinks we are holding a prayer meeting....we have other plans too. I say we just take over the exchange parking lot and park in the spots to avoid any traffic jams, and then we all meet behind Home Depot to march over to the hill where the mound sits.