IEN’s Protecting Mother Earth Conference August 1-4, 2024

After six years of dormancy IEN presents:

The 18th Protecting Mother Earth Conference, hosted by the Eastern Band of Cherokee, will be held from August 1 to 4, 2024.

Protecting Mother Earth (PME) Conferences are all-outdoor events, and this year, the theme will be Indigenous Just Transition.

The PME is Indigenous-initiated, organized, and led to elevate the critical voices of those fighting the frontline battles against the violation of our treaty rights, self-determination, environmental injustice, and climate change. We welcome Indigenous Peoples, frontline grassroots groups, and tribal nation representatives – allies and CJ/EJ advocates across Turtle Island.

The 4-day event will include plenaries and break-out sessions addressing the following key themes: 

  • Climate Justice
  • Extreme vs. Renewable Energy
  • Mining
  • Inherent Relationship Jurisprudence (IRJ)
  • False Solutions to Climate Change
  • Food Sovereignty
  • Environmental Health
  • Indigenous Just Transition
  • Rights of Nature / Mother Earth

We will gather on the Qualla Boundary, located in the mountains of what is now known as Western North Carolina, the original homeland of the Cherokee Peoples.

This is a free, outdoor event (registration required) with the expectation that guests (if able) will camp on-site.

Click poster above for larger image and to download and print PDF

Let’s Get Ready for the PME!

You will need to bring:

  • Camping gear: tent, sleeping bag/bed roll.*
  • Camp chairs and blankets for seating at various events and entertainment.
  • To limit single-use plastics and waste, we ask that everyone bring their own dishes, eating utensils, cups, and water bottles.
  • Bath towels, flashlights, and non-toxic personal hygiene products.
  •  Medication and other personal items while attending the PME.
  • Proper clothing. We’re going to be deep in the Smokey Mountains that are hot during the day and colder at night.

We provide: 

  • Comfort stations; showers and restrooms.
  • Daycare will be provided during the day’s events. Parents are expected to retrieve children for meals and volunteer a shift or two, when possible.
  • Meals. Special diets will be honored as much as possible.
    • If your dietary needs are highly specialized, be prepared to provide these for yourself.
  • Wellness and first-aid tents, snacks, water. Please bring your water bottles!

* Limited camp gear will be available for those unable to transport their own. These will be reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis. Email to reserve.

Alternative Accommodations

The following sections include RV and Campsites, Cabins and Cottages and hotels in Cherokee, Whittier, Sylva, and surrounding area.

These are listed in no particular order and are your responsibility to reserve and pay for.


RV and Campers

We will not be able to provide electric, water or sewage services for RVs and campers on the PME site. The following are in close proximity to the PME and some provide bathhouses, concessions, and camping supplies on site.

Click here for more camping options.

Additional Options

There are quiet and beautiful areas that provide comfort and amenities for groups traveling together for the PME.

Most of these are found at the link below with location and phone number to make reservations.

Click here for Cabins and Cottages

Transportation – Ground and Air

We encourage ground transportation and ride share when possible. We also want as many of our relatives and friends to join us as possible, therefore we do our best to help supplement driving cost.  We have limited funding for travel scholarships and will do our best to accommodate requests, but we cannot guarantee that everyone who applies will receive a travel scholarship. We may also provide partial scholarships in some cases.  More information is provided on the form.

Map It.

Enter this address into your map program: 160 Johnathan Road, Cherokee NC 28719.

Google Maps – Cherokee NC



Asheville Regional Airport

McGhee Tyson Airport

There are other cities and locations within two to five hours away from Cherokee NC. We will not be able to provide shuttle service from these locations.

Need a Ride or Can Provide a Ride?

Online tools to help you arrange ride sharing for the trip to the PME:

HOVR – Long Distance Road-trip done right.

Be a driver or a passenger:

Long Distance Ride Share at:

A few more things before you go...
Please be respectful of the spaces we have been generously allowed to use by following onsite signage, protocols, and conventions included in this document. Always, when in doubt ask and we will be glad to help you.
Check In and the days ahead:
  • Registration will be open at Noon on July 31st and be available until 8am August 1st. Security will register/check-in guests at the gate after 8am Aug. 1st.
  • Campers can begin setting up their area on July 31st at noon. You must register before setting up your campsite and we encourage you to sign up or confirm volunteer assignments as soon as possible. Volunteer coordinators and contact info will be provided.
  • Pictures—Please be mindful and ask permission before taking pictures or recording video. During certain gatherings/ceremonies, you may be asked not to take pictures or video. If in doubt, ask.
  • Media – All media and journalists are required to check in at the media tent. 
  • Please keep your camping area tidy. There will be stations to dispose of trash and recycling. 
  • We strongly encourage people not to use/bring disposables as much as possible. We ask that everyone bring their own dishes, eating utensils, cups, and water bottles.
  • Keep your valuables secured or with you. We will have security on site; however, we cannot be responsible for lost or stolen items. 
  • Vehicles – If you are driving into the PME, you may be able to drive to the camping area to drop off equipment but will have to park in a designated area. We will have security monitoring around the clock. Please lock your vehicles.
  • First Aid – We will have a medical tent for minor injuries and maladies with qualified staff assisting any emergency needs on site.
  • Mobility – The ground around the camping, workshops, and school areas are grassy/uneven. If you have mobility issues please email us at: and let staff know when you register. We will do everything we can to accommodate these needs and knowing in advance will help us to do this.
  • Please leave pets at home when possible. We will allow emotional support and service companions within reason. There will be areas for walking – please clean up after your pet.  All pets must be kept with you and safe at all times.
  • We want them to join us, and we want them to be safe; therefore, we ask that they be accompanied by an adult at all times.
  • We encourage parents and caregivers to volunteer for a daycare shift if you can. You can sign up for daycare and other volunteer roles during the gathering at check-in.
  • Bring toys, books, or other favorite items as well.

The organizer’s of this event have reserved 25 spots for children attending the PME. You can preregister here: or on Saturday morning, August 3rd. Please read the information at the link above for all the details!

Water IS Life! 

  • Swimming/bathing in the riverThe river in this area can be unsafe at times due to fast currents and deep water.
    • Children are to be accompanied and monitored by adults at all times while enjoying the beauty and respite from the heat.
    • Please do not use chemicals (sunscreens/lotions) or soaps, to bathe, wash dishes.
    • Do not throw food/waste into the water or on the river bank.
    • Remove ALL trash and personal items when leaving. Pick up what may not be yours if needed, to ensure the health of our water.
    • No dog walking along the river.

Sacred Fire

  • Please be quiet around this area and respectful when approaching the fire.
    • There will be a firekeeper at all times. Obey any direction that may be given by the firekeeper.
    • Do NOT throw anything into the fire.
    • There will be other protocols provided at the opening ceremony and lighting of the sacred fire.


If conditions allow we may be able to have campfires in designated areas. Campfire wood will be provided from local sources.

Please do not bring firewood with you to prevent the spread of pests and pathogens. 

Strictly Prohibited! Firearms, drugs, and alcohol  while attending the conference and on the property where the PME is being conducted.

Please stay tuned for updates: volunteer sign-up, travel scholarships, and additional information as we finalize all the plans for the 18th Protecting Mother Earth Conference as the days draw closer.

We’re working very hard to accommodate everyone’s needs, but if you have any outstanding concerns before you arrive, please email us at  If you can wait until you arrive, please do. The staff is busy with final preparations, but if your concern can’t wait, we’ll do our best to answer it promptly.

Our hosts, event organizers, partners, allies, speakers, staff, and volunteers want everyone to have a safe and productive experience. We are very grateful that you will join us at this year’s 18th Protecting Mother Earth Conference.
Preparations are underway for the 18th Protecting Mother Earth Conference in Cherokee NC Aug 1-4 2024


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