Buncombe Register of Deeds Launches Cherokee Land Acknowledgment Website


Publication of the register of acts of Buncombe

Although Buncombe County has been firmly established since its date of official incorporation in 1792, we do know that its history begins before that date. Traditionally, Buncombe County and much of its surrounding land belonged to the Anigiduwagi, more commonly known as the Cherokee. In an attempt to take the first steps to officially honor and recognize that Buncombe is on ancestral Cherokee land, the Deed Registry worked with its Cherokee counterparts to collect information for a website featuring the history of land cessions. Cherokee who created Buncombe County. .

This interactive website details how the Cherokee Nation ultimately lost their lands to the United States, and in particular North Carolina. “Seeing how the land was lost is devastating,” notes Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger. “Seeing North Carolina’s aggressive and illegal encroachment on native lands while forcing treaties… much of that land was violently taken under the guise of the American Revolution. “

Originally, the territory of the Cherokee people extended over 100,000 square miles in the Southeast, almost twice as large as North Carolina. During the taking of their lands, many treaties and promises were broken. Many of these early agreements used the phrase “As long as the grass grows” as a symbolic reference to the evergreen status of the Cherokee as a sovereign nation. While we know these treaties were not honored, the earliest land records in Buncombe were recorded as if these mountains were just unclaimed land, free for the state to sell. “For a long time, we wanted to have a better understanding of the origin history of Buncombe County. As a deed register, our office feels a responsibility as we are responsible for keeping land registers to better understand our past, ”explains Reisinger.

Beyond collecting and making this data available to the public, Reisinger says he wants more discussions and collaborations with our Cherokee neighbors. “We need to better understand the story of what happened, but we also need to work on establishing these relationships built on the basis of our understanding of how the land was lost,” says Reisinger, adding that it begins primarily with listening.

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, Buncombe County encourages everyone to take the time to read and interact with our new StoryMap website chronicling the loss of Cherokee lands in our county and beyond.

Buncombe County Deeds Register Official Statement:

Buncombe County acknowledges that all of Anigiduwagi’s land was unfairly taken by the United States in cooperation with the State of North Carolina. As citizens on this earth, we have benefited from the inhumane actions they have taken. By recognizing the historical context of this land, we hope that Buncombe County and the State of North Carolina will begin the process of strengthening our relationships with our Indigenous neighbors. The Buncombe County government recognizes that there is a lot of work to be done and we look forward to starting a longer conversation about partnering with the thriving community of the Eastern Cherokee Indian Band.

Go to BuncombeCounty.org/CherokeeLand to view the project.

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