By Nikwasi Initiative Board, guest column in Smoky Mountain News
The volunteer board members of the nonprofit Nikwasi Initiative are appreciative of the public’s interest in our mission and role in development of a cultural corridor extending from south Macon County to the Qualla Boundary. We would like to take this opportunity to go into more detail about the Initiative.
In 2013, a group of community members from the Town of Franklin, Macon County and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians were brought together through the efforts of the nonprofit Mainspring Conservation Trust, whose mission includes conservation of cultural heritage. Since all community members were asked to serve as volunteers, Mainspring received initial grant funding from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina to hire Asheville-based consulting firm Catalpa Partners to lead the process. The community members named themselves Mountain Partners in recognition of their willingness to mend relations between EBCI and the Town of Franklin and move beyond together — as regional partners.