Principal Chief Michell Hicks appeared before the Macon County Board of Commissioners to request that the Nikwasi Mound be returned to the Eastern Band of Cherokee. The mound made news about a year ago when it went bald after the Town of Franklin reportedly ordered an herbicidal zapping prior to replanting it with low-maintenance eco-grass. Hicks said he holds no grudge. He accepts the official apologies. Instead, on behalf of the tribe, he merely wants the sacred and social gathering site returned to the Cherokee.

Petitioning the county raised questions because the title belongs to the town, but Franklin aldermen wish to pass the buck to the people. Alderwoman Sissy Pattillo says it’s as much a part of the settlers’ heritage as it is the Cherokee’s. The settlers, after all, purchased the mound to protect it from development in the 1940s.

Out of deference to Hicks, the county commissioners voted unanimously to encourage representatives from the town to negotiate with tribal leaders. The aldermen argue they have been trying to do this, but tribal leadership has been deaf to their entreaties.