The plasticity of place : the lives of Cherokee sacred places and the struggles to protect them

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Nathaniel Francis Holly (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Andrew Denson

Abstract: Through an analysis of a variety of primary and secondary sources, this thesis outlines the malleability of “sacredness” and the importance of specific places to individual and collective identities. The first section of the thesis introduces the reader to the concept of “sacred” as a means to establish a theoretical foundation for the remainder of the analysis. After defining “sacred,” biographies of three places sacred to Cherokees – Chota, Nikwasi, and Kituwah – are created. Each of the chapters follows a similar formula: after rooting each place in the Cherokee sacred geography and an analyzing each place’s historical importance, the chapters conclude with an examination of the complex struggles to protect each sacred place. The first chapter centers on Chota, an ancient white, or peace, town located near Vonore, Tennessee on the Little Tennessee River. The second chapter focuses on Nikwasi, home to the mythical Nunnehi, located in modern day Franklin, North Carolina along the Little Tennessee River. The final chapter is devoted to Kituwah, the ancient Mother Town of all Cherokee people, located near Bryson City, North Carolina along the Tuckasegee River. In the end, by comparing each of these chapters, this thesis argues that ideas of sacredness are malleable and that certain places are integral to the identity of Cherokees and non-Cherokees alike.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Cherokee Indians -- Religion
Cherokee Indians -- Folklore
Sacred space -- North Carolina

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