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Knox County Commission supports 'Kuwohi' name of Clingmans Dome

In an eight to two vote, the commission approved a resolution in supporting the effort to restore the name of Clingmans Dome in the Smokies.

Great Smoky Mountains Natl. Park — In an eight to two vote, Knox County Commissioners approved a resolution supporting the name change of the tallest point in the Smokies.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians tribe is pushing to restore Clingmans Dome to its original name.

Kuwohi can be the name of Clingmans Dome, that's only if the petition continues to gain local support and gets approval from the United States Board on Geographic Names. 

Monday's vote was important because it shows the federal government that the most populated county in East Tennessee is behind this effort.

Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains and in Tennessee.

The mountain is named after Thomas Clingmans who was a U.S. Senator and a commander for the Confederate Army. He spent part of his career studying the height of the mountain. Now, the Cherokee's goal is to restore to its original name but not everyone is in favor of the restoration.

"They've got to change all the signs and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, they got to change all the brochures that are handled at handed out at the visitor centers," John Schoonmaker, 5th District Commissioner, said.  "And then of course, Tennessee's going to have to change all of their maps as well as all the maps around the world."

One of the leaders behind this effort said it's not about changing the name but restoring it. 

For thousands of years, Cherokee people have called it Kuwohi, which means mulberry place. Mulberry is the type of fruit that is grown in the mountain. 

"It was a spiritual place and it's sacred. So the mountain itself is a sacred place to our people," Lavita Hill, with the Eastern Band of Cherokee, said. "It eventually led to a hideout for our people. But then throughout history, it was also a place that provided food and shelter."

Two counties in North Carolina have also supported this effort and a similar name resolution is expected to be brought up by the Campbell County Commission.

Monday's vote was symbolic, the federal government had the final say on the name change. 

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