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Nikwasi is located in North Carolina
Location in North Carolina today
Coordinates 35°11′0″N 83°22′0″W / 35.18333°N 83.36667°W / 35.18333; -83.36667
Country  USA
Region Macon County, North Carolina
Municipality Franklin, North Carolina
Culture South Appalachian Mississippian culture, historic period Cherokee
First occupied 1000 CE
Excavation and maintenance
Responsible body Private
Architectural styles platform mound
Number of temples
Area 18 acres (7.3 ha)
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 80004598[1]
Added to NRHP November 26, 1980

Nikwasi (also spelled Nequasee, Nequassee, Nucassee, Noucassih, etc.)[2] is a prehistoric archaeological site and was also the site of an important Cherokee town located on the Little Tennessee River at the location of present-day Franklin, North Carolina.

A large platform mound is still visible, marking the location of the Cherokee period townhouse. The mound itself has remained intact, but its age is uncertain as it has never been excavated. It is similar to other nearby mounds built by the peoples of the South Appalachian Mississippian culture (a regional variation of the Mississippian culture)[3] at about 1000 CE.[4]


Scholars believe the platform mound at Nikwasi was constructed about 1000 CE by Mississippian culture peoples. During the Late South Appalachian Mississippian period, a succeeding people known as Lamar culture became widespread in western North Carolina and associated areas, from about 1350 CE until the historic Cherokee peoples migrated into the area.[5]

In 1730, the English colonist Alexander Cuming called for a council at the town of Nikwasi, which thousands of Cherokee attended. He arranged for seven Cherokee, including Moytoy of Tellico, to accompany him to England. In 1761 during the Seven Years' War with France and its Native allies, English colonial forces destroyed the houses and fields of Nikwasi, worried that the people were allied with the French. They used the townhouse on top of Nikwasi Mound as a field hospital.

After the troops left, the Cherokee returned and rebuilt the town. In 1776 Nikwasi was destroyed during the American Revolutionary War by colonial American troops led by Griffith Rutherford.[2] The Cherokee rebuilt and reoccupied the town afterward. By treaties in 1817 and 1819, they ceded the land around Nikwasi to North Carolina. European-American settlers were granted 4,000 acres (16 km²) at the site of Nikwasi, where they created the town of Franklin, North Carolina.[4]

On November 26, 1980 the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an archaeological site.[1] The mound stands at near its original height, but it is only half its original size in area. As the area around the mound has been filled level for construction, the mound has to be seen closely to be appreciated.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Register of Historic Places". Retrieved 2012-04-09. 
  2. ^ a b "National Park Service Revolutionary War/War of 1812 Study". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  3. ^ "Southeastern Prehistory:Mississippian and Late Prehistoric Period". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-04-10. 
  4. ^ a b Duncan, Barbara R.; Riggs, Brett H (2003). Cherokee Heritage Trails Guidebook. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. 152–153. ISBN 0-8078-5457-3. 
  5. ^ "The South Appalachian Mississippian Tradition", The Woodland and Mississippian Periods in North Carolina, Research Laboratories of Archeology, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, accessed 15 December 2011

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