KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council passed the resolution to rename Clingmans Dome Thursday morning.
The vote was unanimous, which means that the tribe can begin the process of petitioning the federal government to restore the name, “Kuwahi” to Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The summit is a sacred place for the Cherokee and in the resolution, the tribal council described it as holding “a special significance to us as Cherokees, as it was visited by medicine people who prayed and sought guidance from the Creator regarding important matters facing our people, and then returned to our towns to give guidance and advice.”
Kuwahi is a Cherokee word meaning “mulberry place.”
Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Tennessee and the observation tower offers visitors to the summit 360° views of the Smokies. It was renamed after Confederate General Thomas Clingman, who was said to be the first person to accurately measure the peak’s elevation.
Lavita Hill, who filed the regulation to change the name, hopes this resolution will help give her people back their voice.
“[My grandmother] didn’t have a voice, and she didn’t choose to use her voice once her voice was given back to her because she was afraid for us because of what she had been through. But we’re in a time right now where we get to use our voice, we get to be empowered,” Hill told WATE on July 11.
The U.S. has previously reinstituted Indigenous names for sacred spaces and mountains, for example, Denali in Alaska.