FILE – A 155-foot-diameter circular enclosure around hole number 3 at Moundbuilders Country Club at Octagon Earthworks in Newark, Ohio, is pictured July 30, 2019. A network of ancient Native American ceremonial and burial mounds in Ohio described as “part of the cathedral, part cemetery and part astronomical observatory” was added on Tuesday September 19, 2023 to the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. (Doral Chenoweth III/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, file)
By JULIE CARR SMYTH (Associated Press)
CHILLICOTHE — For 400 years, indigenous people of North America gathered en masse to a group of ceremonial sites in what is now Ohio to celebrate their culture and honor their dead. On Saturday, the breadth of the reach of ancient Hopewell culture was put on display to attract a new group of visitors from around the world.
“We stand on the shoulders of geniuses, extraordinary geniuses who preceded us. That’s why we’re here today,” Chief Glenna Wallace, of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, told a crowd gathered at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park to dedicate eight sites there and elsewhere in southern Ohio that became UNESCO World Heritage Sites last month. .
She said the honor means the world now knows the genius of Native Americans, whom the 84-year-old grew up seeing stories, textbooks and popular media refer to as “savages.”
Wallace praised the countless tribal figures, government officials and local advocates who made the designation possible, including the late author, teacher and local park ranger Bruce Lombardo, who once said, “If Julius Caesar had brought a delegation in North America, they would have gone to Chillicothe.
“That means this place was the center of North America, the center of culture, the center of events, the center of Native Americans, the center of religion, the center of spirituality, the center of love , the center of peace,'” Wallace said. “Here in Chillicothe. And that’s what Chillicothe represents today.
The massive Hopewell ceremonial earthworks – described as “part cathedral, part cemetery, and part astronomical observatory” – include ancient sites spread over 90 miles (150 kilometers) south and east of Columbus , including one located on the grounds of a private golf course and country. club. This designation places the network of earthen mounds and structures in the same category as wonders of the world, including the Greek Acropolis, Peru’s Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China.
The presence of materials such as obsidian, mica, shells and shark teeth clearly showed archaeologists that ceremonies held at these sites around 2,000 to 1,600 years ago attracted indigenous people from across the continent .
The inscription ceremony took place against the backdrop of Mound City, a sacred gathering place and cemetery located just steps from the Scioto River. Four other historic park sites – Hopewell Mound Group, Seip Earthworks, Highbank Park Earthworks and Hopeton Earthworks – join Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve in Oregonia and Great Circle Earthworks in Heath to make up the network.
“My wish on this day is that the people who come here from all over the world, from Ross County, from all over Ohio, from all over the United States – wherever they come from – my wish is that they are inspired, inspired by the genius that created them, and the perseverance and the long work that it took to create them, “said Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine. “They are impressive.
Nita Battise, tribal council vice chairwoman for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, said she worked at Hopewell Historical Park 36 years ago — when they had to beg people to come visit. She said many battles have been won since then.
“The time has come, and to see our traditional and ancestral sites recognized globally is phenomenal,” she said. “We must always remember where we come from, because if you don’t remember it, this reminds you.”
Kathy Hoagland, whose family has lived near Frankfort, Ohio, since the 1950s, said the local community “needs it too.”
“We need it culturally, we need it economically, we need it socially,” she said. “We need it in every way.”
Hoagland said having the eyes of the world on them will help local residents “befriend our past,” boost their businesses and heal political divisions.
“It’s here. You can’t take that away from us, and therefore, it brings us all together in a very unique way,” she said. “So, that’s what’s beautiful. Everyone puts all this aside and we come together.
National Park Service Director Chuck Sams, the first Native American to hold the position, said that showcasing the accomplishments of Hopewell elders to a global audience “will help us tell the world the full story of America and the remarkable diversity of our cultural heritage. »