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Just Curious: When were the Ocmulgee Mounds created and what purpose did they serve?

The idea of mound-building spread from areas such as St. Louis, and it later reached the Southeast.

MACON, Ga. — This report has been contributed by Tyler Jones, a student from Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

The Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park may have not been established until 1936, but its history dates as far back as before 1000 CE. 

The park contains thousands of unearthed artifacts that give clues as to the lifestyles and habits that Southeastern Native Americans possessed thousands of years ago. 

But, the park is most well-known for its mounds.

According to park ranger Drew Grice, the mounds were built over 1,000 years ago during the Mississippian period. The idea of mound-building spread from areas such as St. Louis, and later reached the Southeast. 

The Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park houses multiple variations of the mounds built by the Muscogee Nation.

“The three different types of mounds that we have here at Ocmulgee Mounds are going to be a funeral mound -- we also have platform mounds -- the last type of mound we have here at the site is going to be called the Earth Lodge,” said Grice.

He says the Earth Lodge holds particular significance because it was used for ceremonial and religious purposes thousands of years ago.

Although Native Americans no longer reside at the park, Grice said that the park annually hosts the Ocmulgee Indian Celebration, which invites Native Americans to return to the park to share their culture and traditions with Macon.

“They share their culture with us, their songs, their dances, their crafts, everything. It is a very beautiful event we have here, and it is not only a way to celebrate their culture, but some of the other associated tribes as well,” said Grice.

The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1207 Emery Highway.

Pictures contributed by: Project Gutenberg, Living New Deal, Dwhike’s Adventures, & Explore Georgia.

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