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[photo] Representation of some of the hundreds of earthen monuments built by American Indians
Courtesy of the Southeast Archeological Center
The National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, Southeast Archeological Center, and Natchez Trace Parkway, in conjunction with the Historic Preservation Division of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO) proudly invite you to discover Indian Mounds of Mississippi. This guide to the publicly owned, visitor-accessible American Indian Mound sites of Mississippi provides a compact source of information on these impressive landmarks of the ancient past. Viewing the mounds, the traveler will come face to face with a rich legacy of American Indian cultural achievement. Many diverse Indian groups, drawn by the bountiful wildlife, warm climate, and fertile soil, made their homes in what is now Mississippi for thousands of years before the first Europeans and Africans arrived. Mounds built of earth are the most prominent remains left on the landscape by these native peoples. This latest National Register of Historic Places Travel itinerary highlights 11 mound sites, which include some of the best-preserved examples in Mississippi. Further information on mound sites in Mississippi and throughout the Lower Mississippi Delta can be found in the NPS's Archeology and Ethnography program's Ancient Architects of the Mississippi website.

Although the first people entered what is now Mississippi about 12,000 years ago, the earliest major phase of earthen mound construction in this area did not begin until some 2100 years ago. Mounds continued to be built sporadically for another 1800 years. Of the mounds that remain today, some of the earliest were built to bury important members of local tribal groups, such as the Boyd, Bynum, and Pharr mound sites. These mounds were usually rounded, dome-shapes. Later mounds were rectangular, flat-topped earthen platforms upon which temples or residences of chiefs were erected. Examples of this type of mound can be seen at the Winterville, Jaketown, Pocahontas, Emerald, Grand Village, Owl Creek and Bear Creek sites.

[photo] Cover image from Prehistoric Mounds in the Lower Mississippi Valley--example of flat-topped earthen platforms
Courtesy of the Southeast Archeological Center

Eight hundred years ago, the lower Mississippi Delta was home to highly organized societies. There were roads, commerce, and cultural centers anchored by awe-inspiring earthen monuments. Wonders of geometric precision, these earthworks were the centers of life. However, mound construction was in a period of decline in the 1500s, when the first Europeans arrived in the region and brought with them epidemic diseases which decimated native populations across the Southeast. As a result, by the time sustained contact with European colonists began about 1700, the long tradition of mound building was reaching its end.

These mounds are protected because they are owned by state or federal agencies committed by law to their preservation. Most of the mounds in Mississippi, however, are on privately owned land. As a result, many mounds have been irreparably damaged or completely destroyed by modern development and looting. Indian mounds, therefore, are critically endangered cultural sites. We hope that visiting the mounds described in this travel itinerary will help you appreciate these irreplaceable monuments of antiquity and better understand the importance of preserving those that remain.

Indian Mounds of Mississippi offers several ways to discover these historic places reflecting the cultural achievements of Mississippi's native peoples. Each highlighted site features a brief description of the place's significance, color and, where available, historic photographs, and public accessibility information. At the bottom of each page the visitor will find a navigation bar containing links to three essays that explain more about The Mound Builders, Building the Mounds, and Preserving the Mounds. These essays provide historic background, or "contexts," for many of the places included in the itinerary. The itinerary can be viewed online, or printed out if you plan to visit Mississippi in person.


[photo] Carved Marble Statues from a Mississipian Mound
Courtesy of the Southeast Archeological Center
Created through a partnership between the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, Southeast Archeological Center, and Natchez Trace Parkway, in conjunction with the Historic Preservation Division of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and NCSHPO, Indian Mounds of Mississippi is the latest example of a new and exciting cooperative project. As part of the Department of the Interior's strategy to promote public awareness of history and encourage tourists to visit historic places throughout the nation, the National Register of Historic Places is cooperating with communities, regions, and Heritage Areas throughout the United States to create online travel itineraries. Using places listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the itineraries help potential visitors plan their next trip by highlighting the amazing diversity of this country's historic places and supplying accessibility information for each featured site. In the Learn More section, the itineraries link to regional and local web sites that provide visitors with further information regarding cultural events, special activities, and lodging and dining possibilities.

The Southeast Archeological Center and Historic Preservation Division of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History are the 11th set of more than 30 organizations working directly with the National Register of Historic Places to create travel itineraries. Additional itineraries will debut online in the future. The National Register of Historic Places, the Southeast Archeological Center, the Historic Preservation Division of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and Natchez Trace Parkway hope you enjoy this virtual travel itinerary of Mississippi's mounds. If you have any comments or questions, please just click on the provided e-mail address, "comments or questions" located at the bottom of each page.

 
[graphic] Link to Mound Builders Essay [graphic] Footer with links to essays [graphic] Link to Building the Mounds Essay  [graphic] Link to Preserving the Mounds Essay

 

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