Ocmulgee National Monument working toward expansion
by: Amanda Rutland/MCNPR
MACON, Ga. — The National Parks Service Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, Ga. has been working for several years to expand the park boundaries. Currently, the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Boundary Revision Act (H.R. 538) has passed the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate Committee and waits voting by the Senate.
Ocmulgee National Monument Superintendent Jim David said the bill would expand the park from 702 acres to almost 3,000 acres and it would protect important archeological areas along the Ocmulgee River in Georgia.
“The plateau here where the mounds are located this is where the leaders of the society lived, but the worker bees, the folks growing the corn, making the pottery, making the baskets, etc. They all lived down around the river in the flat land and that is what we are trying to preserve and protect,” David said.
The property is currently privately owned and as private property the landowners could develop it without intervention.
“It is their property they can do whatever they want with it regardless of how much damage it does to a cultural site and since that is a very big part of the story we want to preserve that, and that is homeland of the Muscogee Nation and having that protected forever will mean that property will not be destroyed or torn up, etc.,” David said.
David said the bill is not controversial because all the landowners are willing to sell.
“The landowners who we will be buying the land from, I have talked with all of them. They are all willing sellers, so we are not going to use imminent domain or condemnation,” David said.
Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) said in a press release that the Ocmulgee Mounds are a cultural and archeological treasure.
“The site of these historic mounds has been inhabited continuously for over 17,000 years, and the ceremonial mounds and earth-lodges that exist today were built over 1,000 years ago. House passage of this legislation is a win for historic preservation and a win for Middle Georgia. I thank all those that have helped push this bill across the finish line here in the House, and I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to follow suit by enacting this legislation into law as swiftly as possible,” Bishop said.
The passage of the bill would not only expand the park, but also change the name of the park to the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park.
“We added the word mounds because we have a big identity problem here in town,” David said. “For generations now everyone calls this place the Indian Mounds. They have no idea of the real name.”
The local government, economic development groups and visitor center as well as the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes support the expansion.