The city of Asheville and a lot of concerned citizens of both the city and the county are embarking on what may become a lengthy and expensive process of addressing past racial grievances and making amends: renaming streets, removing monuments, offering financial reparations.
But the tragic history of slavery — not only in America’s past but throughout history worldwide — holds many sad surprises. Among them is the history of Cherokee Indians who held Black slaves; that situation has been well documented, and, according to at least one historian, the percentage of slaves totaled 10% of the Cherokee population around 1825.
Shouldn’t Asheville’s activists acknowledge that not only white people owned enslaved people and act accordingly? Shouldn’t the name of Asheville’s civic center, Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville, be among those that must be changed, since the Cherokees were also slaveowners? Shouldn’t the city of Asheville revisit the underwriting contract for Harrah’s Cherokee – Asheville and perhaps cancel it? And shouldn’t any money tainted by those once-upon-a-time slaveholders be returned? Shouldn’t consistency matter in a case as serious as this?
I suggested as much in a letter to the Asheville City Council and the mayor, and had only one response, from Julie Mayfield.
— Nan Chase
Editor’s note: Xpress contacted Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Richard Sneed, Mayor Esther Manheimer and Asheville City Council members with a summary of the writer’s points but received no response.