In an attempt to stop any potential pollution entering Blue Spring Creek in northwest Miller County, landowners reached out to the Northern Cherokee Nation for help. The nation obliged and land along the creek is now considered sacred by the tribe.
Although the land is now designated a Cherokee Holy site, the Rocky Mount Sewer District is not required by law to halt plans to construct a wastewater treatment facility at the headwaters of the creek. The facility's blueprints call for the effluence to drain into the creek — a plan vehemently protested by creek advocates and area landowners, most of whom are not district constituents.
The Cherokee ceremony performed Friday afternoon is another avenue the Committee to Save the Blue Spring Creek utilized to bring attention to preserving the cool water creek ecosystem. The committee has contacted the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Sierra Club, submitted petitions to the Missouri Department of Conservation and held organizational meetings — all with the goal to either divert the effluence or relocate the facility.
Steve Lee, a landowner along the creek, said the land is surrounded by burial grounds, which qualified it for the ceremony.
Northern Cherokee Nation Chief Gray Elk performed various ceremonies including the seven directions ceremony,— a ritual meant to purify the area. The ceremony set the stage for an adoption ceremony.
Lee was officially adopted into the Cherokee Nation. "By Cherokee law, he now has the same rights and responsibilities as any blooded tribal member. There is no difference between him and us now," the Chief said.
"This has been a life long dream," Lee said of his adoption.
The newly-formed relationship with the tribe may have been a dream of Lee's, but saving the creek was the underlying factor in the decision to pursue the ceremonies.
"Hopefully they will realize that they will be running man's sewage through holy ground. Hopefully it will play a part in stopping it," Lee said. "This ground has always been sacred to me anyway. All my neighbors feel this way."
"This is too beautiful of an area to pollute anyway and it is so easy to fix the problem with a little bit of movement and a little bit of change. Everybody ends up happy," the Chief added.
At the conclusion of the ceremonies, Chief Gray Elk declared the land sacred. "This land will now be known as a Cherokee Holy site," he said. The tribe can now use the land for weddings and other special occasions.
A hearing to discuss the potential impact of the wastewater treatment facility on the creek is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Rocky Mount Lions Club building.