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Octagon Mounds

Posted 20 Nov Friends of the Mounds list


The following is a copy of the letter that has been sent out across the country to tribal offices, community groups, and national organizations to alert them to the dire situation we are currently facing here in Ohio. Please feel free to forward this to anyone and everyone that may be willing to lend their voice to our cause in helping to protect and preserve this sacred and public site.


Dear Friends,

We are trying to save the Circle and Octagon Mounds in Newark, OH from continued destruction and desecration. We need your prayers and letters.

The Circle and Octagon Mounds are some of the last remnants of the civilization known by mainstream anthropologists as the Hopewell culture. It is clear to many elders and spiritual people that the site of the Circle and Octagon are sacred, and they are in close proximity to other important sacred sites such as Black Hand Gorge and Flint Ridge.

The Ohio Historical Society (OHS) currently maintains the Circle and Octagon mounds. Although the administration of the Ohio Historical Society maintains that they are a "private, not-for-profit" organization, the majority of their funding comes from the state (and likely federal funds as well). The Circle and Octagon Mounds complex was purchased with public monies and stipulations in all available deeds and leases state that the property is to be open to the public and preserved as a public site. The following is an excerpt from the mission statement on their website:

"The Ohio Historical Society is a nonprofit organization incorporated in 1885 " promote a knowledge of archaeology and history, especially in Ohio." The society exists to interpret, preserve, collect, and make available evidence of the past, and to provide leadership on furthering knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the prehistory and history of Ohio and of the broader cultural and natural environments of which Ohio is a part."

Statements such as these are all worthwhile and something we should all strive for. However, the reality of the situation is much different than the lofty ideals espoused in their mission statement. Despite being acknowledged as a National Historic Landmark and an internationally significant site, the Ohio Historical Society leases the property to the Moundbuilders Country Club, which utilizes this sacred site as an 18-hole golf course for those privileged few who can afford the annual dues.

In the process of transforming the mounds into a golf course, a great deal of needless damage was done to the site through the digging of sand traps into the sides of some, laying asphalt cart paths throughout the complex, and even removing a significant section of the Circle Mound entirely so that the golfers would have ready access to the first tee.

In addition, the Moundbuilders Country Club, merely a tenant on public land, has been consistently limiting public and Native American access to the mounds. Native people visiting the site are routinely harassedóby club members and staff alike. Only through the pressure of a group comprised of educators, scholars, Native Americans, and other concerned citizens did we see some small improvement in the situation. The small progress was that the Ohio Historical Society required the country club to agree to have four golf-free days for public access. However, recent events have shown the insincerity of these superficial gestures.

On June 26, 2002, Barbara Crandell was arrested for praying at the Mounds. She was charged with criminal trespassing, which is interesting given the fact that it is a public site. The judge in the case refused to allow any evidence regarding this fact to be admitted and she was recently convicted of the charge. While it is only a fourth degree misdemeanor, a dangerous precedent has been set and other Native people wishing to go there to pray or members of the public wishing to visit the site.

If these mounds are important to you and if you believe that it is time for the country club to vacate this sacred and public site, we need your letters. If the mounds are important to your tribe (tribal heritage, history, etc.), please include this in your letter. We also ask for your permission to share your letters with the Ohio Historical Society and with the general public through the media and public presentations as we work to raise awareness of this issue.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Mark Welsh Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio
67 East Innis Avenue
Columbus, OH 43207
614-443-2651 FAX
[email protected]

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