OCMULGEE MOUNDS NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK TAKES NEXT STEP TOWARDS REALIZATION
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) and Rep. Austin Scott (GA-08) testified in front of the United States House of Representative’s Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Federal Lands regarding H.R. 482, the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park Boundary Revision Act of 2015. Their bipartisan bill would expand the boundaries of the Ocmulgee National Monument from approximately 700 acres to over 2,800 acres; change the name from “Ocmulgee National Monument” to “Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park” in order to increase name recognition and draw additional visitors; and authorize a resources study to expand the park even further and include additional opportunities for hunting, camping, fishing, and other recreational activities.
“Our bill would strengthen the current Ocmulgee National Monument and bolster the economy and cultural life of Georgia and beyond,” said Congressman Sanford Bishop. “There are few if any historic sites in the United States that have evidence of continuous human habitation from so long ago, when the first nomadic people came to North America to hunt Ice Age mammals and began to settle the Macon Plateau. It is what makes the Ocmulgee National Monument so unique.”
“By revising the boundaries of the Ocmulgee National Monument to create Georgia’s first National Historical Park, we continue to preserve our state’s unique and rich history,” said Congressman Austin Scott. “This legislation will not only create a lasting memorial for future generations, but it will also provide economic and cultural benefits to the Middle Georgia.”
Due to its history and archaeological importance, the future Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park deserves to be preserved as a lasting memorial to how individuals relate to the land and other natural resources. Its expansion and improvement would be a fitting tribute to the Native Americans who first came to this historical site during the Paleo-Indian period. The expanded park also will generate tourist revenue for Macon, Georgia and the surrounding areas while educating visitors on the little known fact that different cultures have occupied this land for thousands of years. The mounds and earth-lodges that the Mississippians built to serve as formal council chambers when they arrived in Macon around 900 A.D. remain intact for all to see and appreciate.
Ocmulgee National Monument was originally authorized by Congress in 1934 to protect a fraction of the lands commonly known as the 'Old Ocmulgee Fields,' upon which certain Indian mounds of great historical importance are located. The legislation envisioned a large park of approximately 2,000 acres but local citizens could finance the acquisition of only 678 acres by the time it opened in 1936. Today, the Ocmulgee National Monument contains 702 acres.
The role of the Ocmulgee National Monument is to "present a story of many stages of prehistoric cultural development, emphasizing the influences of agriculture, the Mound Builder period, and the relationship of these various cultures to each other and to life today." Property also would be acquired only from willing donors or sellers, subject to the availability of funding.
On October 10, 2014, the measure was endorsed by the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee [Creek], and Seminole Nations), representing over 500,000 Indian people throughout the United States. To view the resolution of endorsement, please click here.