The National Park Service is considering trading 168 acres of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for part of the band's reservation so the tribe can build new schools. If the swap is approved, it will be one of just a few trades involving tribal lands in the park system's history, a Park Service spokesman said. An agreement signed in June by Principal Chief Leon Jones and the Park Service set up a joint study to determine feasibility of a land swap. The land the tribe wants, called Ravensford or Floyd Bottoms, is northwest of the reservation near where the Blue Ridge Parkway intersects U.S. 441. Any part of the reservation taken in a trade must be of equal value but does not have to be near the Smokies. It can be next to any national park in the state. Most of the tribe's schools were built in the 1960s and have since become overcrowded. This year, for the first time, educators turned away non-Indian students at Cherokee Elementary School, built to hold 400 but now accommodating nearly 800. Public hearings will be held before a decision is made about the proposed trade. No date has been announced for the completion of the study.
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