For this blog category, “Countdown to Christmas: Our Travel Tree & Georgia State Parks,” each day between December 1 and 25, I take a pic of a state park ornament on our Travel Tree and briefly highlight that park.
We visited Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site in North Georgia in Cartersville while we were staying at nearby Red Top Mountain State Park. As with other state and national parks we visit, I’m both so thankfully happy that we have these physical remnants of Native American culture preserved and so frustratingly sad that we have so few of them left … especially as I contemplate the reason why.
“Home to several thousand Native Americans from 1000 A.D. to 1550 A.D., this 54-acre site protects six earthen mounds, a plaza, village site, borrow pits and defensive ditch. Etowah Mounds is the most intact Mississippian Culture site in the Southeast. Artifacts in the museum show how natives of this political and religious center decorated themselves with shell beads, paint, complicated hairdos, feathers and copper ear ornaments. Hand-carved stone effigies weighing 125 pounds still bear some original pigments.” (Park website)
“It is believed that the mounds were the work of a culturally advanced people and that their central metropolis once sat on the site. A culture of mound-builders, the people are said to have used the man-made hills both for burial purposes and as raised platforms for the homes of their elders and respected leaders.” (Atlas Obscura)
“By the time that what many consider to be traditional Native American culture dominated the land, the Mississippians had long since abandoned their city, leaving behind only remnants and mounds to tell their tale.” (Atlas Obscura)
We climbed again, scaling sacred ground.
And similar to our climbing at the Kolomoki Mounds in South Georgia, the air at the top here was old air, swaying with the past. It whispered to me that if I could somehow just adjust my all-that’s-really-important-is-in-the-now sight, my impervious in-the-now knowing, and hearing, I might be able to garner a treasuring, a cherishing of what WAS before. What still is, if I could but see and hear and know.
Looking down, we spotted a small ranger-led field trip of children. Robert quickly snapped their pic. I hope they come up here. And breathe this air.
We saw such beauty along the Etowah River’s Nature Trail.
A few of Robert’s photos …
I grew up about an hour away from these mounds in the tiny Cherokee County town of Ball Ground (so named after a version of baseball played by Native Americans). We were the Ball Ground School Indians. My mother had Cherokee blood in her ancestry and was born and raised in the nearby hamlet of Talking Rock. North Georgia is replete with Native American place names (I suppose most everywhere is). I graduated from Cherokee High School, a rival of nearby Etowah High and Sequoyah High. I rooted for the Atlanta “Braves.” As a young person, I never quite had the vision to see beyond the “cute Indian-ness” of my heritage and geography.
I suppose I simply have to keep looking. For First Nations are surely there to see.