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Nikwasi (also spelled Nequassee, Nucassee, Noucassih, etc.) was an important Cherokee town located on the Little Tennessee Rivermarker at the site of present-day Franklin, North Carolinamarker.

A large mound is still visible, marking the location of the townhouse. The Nikwasi Mound has remained intact. It has not been excavated, so its age is uncertain, but it is similar to other nearby mounds whose age has been determined to be at least 1,000 years (Duncan 2003:152-153). These were built by the Mississippian mound builder culture, about 1000 CE. Cherokee entered the area later, probably after 1600.


In 1730, Alexander Cuming called for a council at the town of Nikwasi, which thousands of Cherokee attended. Afterwards, seven Cherokee, including Moytoy of Tellico, went with Cuming to visit England. In 1761, British forces destroyed the houses and fields of Nikwasi and 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 by colonial American troops led by Griffith Rutherford. The Cherokee rebuilt and reoccupied the town afterward. By treaties in 1817 and 1819, they ceded the land around Nikwasi to North Carolinamarker. European-American settlers were granted 4,000 acres (16 km²) at the site of Nikwasi, where they created the town of Franklin, North Carolina (Duncan 2003:153).


  • Duncan, Barbara R. and Riggs, Brett H. Cherokee Heritage Trails Guidebook. University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill (2003). ISBN 0-8078-5457-3
  • Mooney, James. "Myths of the Cherokee" (1900, reprint 1995). See James Mooney.

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