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Delta Voices

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(photo) Young Indian girl in traditional dress.

“Because the whole country is very flat, and an elevated site is seldom found . . . they make it by their own labor. Amassing a very large quantity of earth, they pack it down by treading on it, raising it up in the form of a hill two or three pike-lengths in height. On top they make a level space large enough for ten, twelve, fifteen or twenty houses for the dwellings of the lord and his family and the people in his service . . . Then the rest of the common people build theirs, endeavoring not to be too far from the hill where the lord's house is; they try rather to surround his with their own."

Garcilaso de la Vega, writing of the De Soto expedition, 1605
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“For more than a century the ghosts of a vanished nation have ambuscaded in the vast solitudes of the continent, and the forest-covered mounds have been usually regarded as the mysterious sepulchers of its kings and nobles. It was an alluring conjecture that a powerful people . . . once occupied the valley."

J. W. Powell, Bureau of American Ethnology, 1891
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“The Choctaw carried the bones of their dead with them. They say the bones were the treasures of their people . . . Since they had been traveling for a long time . . . the Choctaw decided to stay and settle down and bury all those bones, and the place they buried them was a great mound, our Mother Mound, Nanih Waiya."

Choctaw elder, 1996
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“Science fiction or science fact? A mysterious culture that provides clues to America's ancient origins . . . Since their discovery by early explorers . . . the curious artificial heaps of earth have served as one of the great riddles of modern time. Not since the lost cities of Pompeii or Atlantis has an archaeological find produced such worldwide controversy."

Silverberg, Mound Builders of Ancient America: The Archeology of a Myth, 1970
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Above right: Today, the ancient earthworks evoke a sense of heritage and sprirituality among the delta tribes.

MJB/EJL