Discover Kituwah Mound, Cherokee Mother Town, at Two Upcoming Run/Walk Events | Cherokee, NC

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Discover Kituwah Mound, Cherokee Mother Town, at Two Upcoming Run/Walk Events

(Photo by @ravenscairn)

Seven miles outside of downtown Cherokee is Kituwah, the original Cherokee settlement, also known as the “Cherokee Mother Town.” Kituwah is considered by all three of the federally recognized Cherokee tribes as the place of origin for the Cherokee people. Archeologists date the site back to nearly 10,000 years ago.

Kituwah Mound was the center of the village, according to Cherokee legend. Originally, the mound was 15 to 20 feet tall, and one of the places of the “eternal flame.” In Cherokee culture, the tribal “keepers of medicine” would keep fires burning in the council houses on top of the mounds, symbolizing the presence of the Creator and the life of the town.

Kituwah Mound is still visible today. It stands about six feet tall, reduced in height after years of farming when it was not under Cherokee ownership, from 1820 to 1996. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians brought back the Kituwah village site in 1996 with the purchase of more than 300 acres of land, their first major land purchase in more than a century.​

A Sacred Place

In the book Cherokee Heritage Trails Guidebook by Barbara R. Duncan and Brett H. Riggs, educator and Cherokee language specialist Marie Junaluska describes Kituwah as a very sacred place. “It’s a very peaceful place. If you ever go there, you can feel the peace. The spirit that was there a long time ago is still there,” she said.

Honoring the "mother town" was akin to honoring Selu, the Cherokee Corn Mother. Honoring mothers is a concept that has pervaded Cherokee culture. Well into the 20th century, the Cherokee operated on a matrilineal system, in which lineage is traced through the mother and maternal ancestors.​

(Mother’s Day 5K at Kituwah Mound. Photo by @mrs.foxx.3)

Two Special Events

The 2017 Mother's Day 5K Run/Walk will be held at Kituwah Mound. Hosted by Cherokee Choices and benefiting the Cherokee Dialysis Support Group, the event takes place on a course that has a bit of everything: road, farm road, and trails—offering a complete review of the historic site. The course is perfect for seasoned runners, first-timers, and walkers. The run begins at noon. Registration will be accessible online at or in person from 10:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. Prior to May 1, entry fees are $15 per person and $5 for children 12 and younger and ages 59 or above. After May 1, adults are $20. 

Another event, the Turkey Strut 5K Walk/Run takes place on November 18 at Kituwah Mound. This year, the event benefits the Cherokee Braves Booster Club, a community organization that supports local athletes at Cherokee Central Schools. On-site registration will be available from 10:30–11:30 a.m., and you can pre-register online at The race begins at noon.

Pre-sale tickets are $15 for adults before November 12, and $20 after November 12. Tickets for adults 59 and up, and kids ages 12 and younger are only $5.​

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