MONROE COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — A bill spearheaded by an east Tennessee congressman has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and will move to the Senate. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Historic Lands Reacquisition Act would essentially give back 76 acres to the Cherokee tribe.

“Today, for the third Congress in a row, the House in a wide bipartisan vote, passed my bill to return 76 acres of sacred land in Monroe County to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians; righting a terrible wrong when their land was forcibly taken from them by the federal government,” said Representative Chuck Fleischmann in a media release announcing the bill’s passage on November 2.

Fleischmann spoke to WATE 6 On Your Side about what is holding up the bill in the Senate as it moves forward. “The problem, candidly, is one Senator of the United States Senate from North Carolina who refuses to allow this to come up for a vote,” said Rep. Fleischmann.

Fleischmann also talked about how one of the towns within the land is where Tennessee got its name. “The state of Tennessee was named after Tanasi,” he said.

Gene Branson, with the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, is a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. He spoke about the tribe’s historical presence. “They all inhabited the Little Tennessee River Valley, the two main capital towns were Chota and Tanasi.” He shared that getting the land back would mean more than can ever be written in a bill.

“It means so much to get that back into the possession for cultural preservation, historical preservation,” said Branson. “They got it taken away, but now we basically have to legislate or buy it back now, which is okay, we’ll get it back into possession of the Cherokee people.”

Charlie Rhodarmer, the Director and Manager of the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, explains the current situation. “You’re standing on Cherokee gravel or walking on Cherokee grass, but you stick your finger in TVA dirt.”

Fleischmann said he would continue to push to get this portion of land back to who he feels is the rightful owner. To read more about the Eastern Band of Cherokee Historic Lands Reacquisition Act, click here.