The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is fighting construction of a Duke Energy electrical station next to a mound that marks the tribe's ancestral home.
The Swain County site, called Kituwah, sits in a field along the Tuckasegee River and is surrounded by mountains. After generations of farming, the mound is 170 feet wide and only 5 feet high.
But tradition says it once was the foundation of buildings that held the Cherokees' sacred flame, tended year-round at the tribe's "mother town." Archaeologists say Kituwah (KEE-to-wa) has been occupied for at least 9,000 years.