Ocmulgee Mounds: Expansion Pack

Ocmulgee Mounds: Expansion Pack
(MN File Photo) U.S. Congress passed legislation that would expand the Ocmulgee National Monument from 702 acres to 2,800.

Liz Gray/Reporter

If signed, law would quadruple the amount of land at national park

OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — The Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Georgia has worked to preserve the ancestral Mvskoke mounds since 1935, allowing visitors to catch a glimpse into the life of leadership during the Woodland Period.

Once President Trump signs legislation, the national park would expand its acreage from 702 to 2,800 and possibly expand knowledge of the everyday Mvskoke worker during the mound era.

Ocmulgee National Monument Superintendent Jim David said the common worker occupied the lands along the river.

He said the expansion gives opportunity to the Southeast Archaeological Center to explore, and possibly discover.

“At this point, we have no idea what’s down there,” David said.

He said the park suspects looters have scavenged the area over the years but there is still archaeological materials to be found.

David said when archaeologists first excavated the land in the 1930s, they had anticipated discovery of mound period artifacts. What they did not expect as they dug deeper was the presence of humans dating back to the Ice Age.

“That’s 12,000 to 17,000 years worth of history on one site,” he said.

David said he looks forward to working with Muscogee (Creek) Nation Cultural Preservation to see what additional studies might be needed for materials found.

He has been working as park superintendent for 22 years and always had the philosophy that the purpose of the park is to tell the story of Mvskoke people and their ancestors.

“The only way to do that properly is to get input from the tribal people,” he said.

The park will also acquire and improve public access to what David referred to as the ‘Lamar Mound,’ giving visitors an opportunity to be educated on its history.

“Access to that has always been private property and the landowner was not willing to put any money to maintain that road,” David said.

A name change of the park from ‘Ocmulgee National Monument’ to ‘Ocmulgee Mounds Historical Park’ was added to the bill to help visitors find the park.

According to David, residents in the area know the park as the ‘Indian mounds,’ so when out-of-towners ask locals where the Ocmulgee Monument is, they tend to misunderstand the question.

He said hopefully now when visitors go into local businesses and ask where the Ocmulgee Mounds are, locals will be able to point them in the right direction without confusion.

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