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Creeks join fight to protect historic land
Posted by ErthAvengr to NDN AIM
The Intertribal Council of Five Civilized Tribes sent a resolution to the
Federal Highway Administration Thursday urging the agency to protect the
first traditional cultural property designated in the eastern half of the
nation. A four-lane highway proposed by the Georgia Department of
Transportation would cut through this nationally and culturally significant
Creek Nation Principal Chief R. Perry Beaver is a member of the Intertribal
Council of Five Civilized Tribes. He was one of the leaders who signed the
"More than two dozen tribes have expressed concern for this road project
through formal resolutions, and NPCA is among a number of conservation and
historic preservation organizations joining them in their concern," said Jill
Stephens, program coordinator for the National Parks Conservation
Association's (NPCA) Southeast regional office.
"The routes proposed by the Georgia Department of Transportation fail to
protect the first traditional cultural property east of the Mississippi
Located in Macon, Georgia, the Ocmulgee Old Fields received this designation
in 1999, placing it on the National Register of Historic Places. The cultural
property includes floodplains along the Ocmulgee River as well as several
earthen mounds built by the Mississippians atop the Macon plateau. Artifacts
found at the site include pottery, copper covered puma jaws, and even spear
points dating back 12,000 years to Ice Age hunters.
"Ocmulgee and the Old Fields are, most importantly, places of tribal
significance," says Alicia Seyler, NPCA's American Indian Liaison. "For
Muskogean people, the mounds are the birthplace of our culture, and our
reverence for these special places shall not cease."
A number of tribes have both historic and ancestral ties to the land.
The ancestors of the Muscogee people first "sat down," or developed an
agrarian lifestyle there, creating the cradle of the Muscogee Confederacy.
Known as the Reserve Tract, it was one of the last parcels the Muscogee
(Creek) ceded before being forcibly removed on the Trail of Tears. Chief
McIntosh, who finalized this transaction, was subsequently executed according
to tribal law.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has passed two tribal resolutions in opposition
to building the road through the area. Today, the Intertribal Council of Five
Civilized Tribes-comprised of the Muscogee (Creek), Choctaw, Chickasaw,
Seminole, and Cherokee Nations in Oklahoma-delivered a similar resolution to
the Federal Highway Administration, which oversees the study and selection of
In October, the United South and Eastern Tribes, comprised of 24federally
recognized tribes, passed a resolution of their own seeking to protect the
The Ocmulgee Old Fields consist of privately owned lands between Bond Swamp
National Wildlife Refuge and Ocmulgee National Monument. Designated in 1934,
Ocmulgee National Monument preserves earthen mounds, ceremonial buildings,
and numerous artifacts. Congress originally authorized up to 2,000 acres for
the monument that presently contains only 702 acres. The relatively
undeveloped, forested lowlands adjacent to the park provide habitat for
woodstorks, alligators, bobcats, and other species. Earlier this year, the
National Parks Conservation Association listed Ocmulgee National Monument as
one of America's Ten Most Endangered National Parks.
"These resolutions reaffirm that a number of tribes are concerned about the
traditional cultural property and are closely watching the road development,"
said Stephens. "It is the responsibility of both the Georgia Department of
Transportation and Federal Highway Administration to make sure Ocmulgee
National Monument and the Old Fields are protected."
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