Mounds Trail To Highlight Indian Heritage - posted January 02, 2014
A driving route due to be completed by year’s end will link more than forty American Indian sites in the Delta and give motorists a glimpse into ancient cultures. The Mississippi Mounds Trail will run through fifteen counties and highlight the engineering genius and artistic vision of the people who created these earthworks hundreds of years before Columbus first came ashore in the Caribbean.
The first sites on the trail are in DeSoto County in the northernmost part of the state. The Mississippi Delta is home to more than one thousand mound sites—far more than could be included in any single tour. The trail closes in Wilkinson County, on the Louisiana state line.
The mounds at the Grand Village in Natchez, at Pocahontas between Jackson and Yazoo City, and at Winterville Mounds near Greenville will be directly accessible to the public. All the other sites will have interpretive signage at a nearby pull-off, but not all mounds will be visible from the road at all times of the year, and no other mounds will be open for the public to walk or climb on.
“Most of these mounds are privately owned,” said Pam Lieb, MDAH chief archaeologist. “This driving trail gives people the opportunity to experience this rich aspect of the region’s history in a systematic way that has not been possible up to now. They have been a secret treasure hiding in plain sight, in the case of each of these just a few yards from a public road.”
The highway department has situated each pull-off to balance visibility of the mounds with absolute safety for the motorists. A driving tour brochure and smart phone application will provide a map and additional information about the history of each site.
“This project has given the state the opportunity to conduct new research to help us better understand life in the area during the times these mounds were built,” said Lieb. “Just as important, the mounds trail has the additional benefit of helping the landowners preserve the earthworks as archaeologists have provided technical services.”
Construction of the first pull-offs has begun, and the first signage is expected to be installed in the coming months. The Mississippi Mounds Trail is a joint project of MDAH, Mississippi Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Mississippi Lower Delta Partnership, and local American Indian tribes.