Pro Bono Winter Break 2013 (Cherokee, N.C.) Blog Day Three

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Day Three: You don't have to go home but you can't stay here.

Hey Guys, Today’s blog entry is coming to you from the road. We are about two hours in and passing by Rutherfordton, NC. It has been a great day so far. This morning we packed up our bags and headed over to the courthouse where we met Cory Blankenship, the Treasurer for the Eastern Band of Cherokee. During our conversation with him we talked about a number of topics, including the relationship between Harrah’s (the casino) and the Eastern Band of Cherokee, the tribal government’s attempt to provide services to the enrolled members of the tribe, and the comparison between the situation of the Cherokee here in NC, the Cherokee Tribes in Oklahoma and Native American tribes throughout the country. To an extent it was a conversation on the nuts and bolts of running the reservation. Additionally, we learned about how the tribal government pays for and get services to enrolled members and the ways in which they attempt to diversify the economy of the reservation. Too soon we were forced to get out of the way for traffic court and we headed across town to The Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

While we were waiting to go in, one of the museum employees (a full-blooded member of the reservation) offered to give us a special introduction on the history and current state of reservation (I think it helped that we were there during the off-season). The most impactful part for me was that he sang and translated the words to Amazing Grace. Though we had heard Myrtle Driver speak some Cherokee yesterday, the language is beautiful and even more so when done in song.

Frighteningly Life-like Manikins from Museum of Cherokee

The museum was exceptional. It gave a great overview of some of the history we had not learned about and employed some startling life-like manikins. After the museum, we of course hit up the gift shops where I was able to contemplate buying blowguns, six shooter holsters, personalized pocketknives, and frybread mix.

Lunch today was at Peter’s Pancake and Waffles where the specialty is the “Backpackers Pancake” (made with three types of nuts and four types of whole grain flour). My personal favorite moment though was when our waitress brought our table of five a BOWL OF BUTTER. A bowl. It was like a bowl of yellow Ice Cream. . . Kat led our last reflection of the trip which had us stand in a circle, and one person take the end of a ball of yarn. The first person would share something they had learned on the trip and something they wanted to remember/take with them when they went home. That person would then toss the ball of yarn to another member of the group while keeping hold of the string. The end result was an interconnected web. Hearing the impact that the trip had on members of our group was the perfect way to sum everything up.

Kelly, Munashe, and Larry Nestler (Senior Managing Attorney of Legal Aid Sylva)

Though there might be a few guest blogs over the next few days, this will be the last one from Joe and I. The last few days have been otherworldly and I hope that the relationships built both between the members of our trip and between UNC and Legal Aid Sylva/the Cherokee Reservation will continue to grow and develop and we can look back on this week as the start of something special. Quick thanks to everyone who helped with the blogs, to our trip leaders for not leading us too far astray, and for the people of Cherokee, NC for all of their kindness.

Posted by Samuel H. Williams (Sam) on Sat. January 5, 2013 7:51 PM
Categories: Winter Break Trip 2013

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