Bringing The World Home To You

© 2021 WUNC North Carolina Public Radio
120 Friday Center Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27517
919.445.9150 | 800.962.9862
91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount 91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Ban On Non-Cherokee Media In Tribal Council Chambers Sparks Free Press Debate

flag of the eastern band of cherokee indians
Wikimedia Commons

In early April, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Tribal Council member Tommye Saunooke called for Smoky Mountain News reporter Holly Kays to be blocked from entering the Tribal Council Chambers. A couple days later, Saunooke issued a motion to ban all non-native media from Tribal Council Chambers. This effectively made the tribe-funded paper The Cherokee One Feather the only media organization allowed to sit inside the chambers.

The ban is regarded as largely symbolic as Tribal Council meetings are streamed live online and on televisions in the building lobby where Kays was permitted to remain. But critics say the ban is a red flag for possible future censorship. Host Frank Stasio speaks with Holly Kays, The Cherokee One Feather editor Robert Jumper, and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Principal Chief Richard Sneed for their perspectives on the ban.

CORRECTION: An earlier version misstated the timeline of events. On April 3, Tribal Council member Saunooke called for Kays to be blocked from entering the Tribal Council Chambers. Two days later, Kays arrived at the Chambers to report on a meeting and was told to leave. 


Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.