Ouachita River Valley

I recently had the privilege of taking a tour of some of the mound sites along the Ouachita River Valley with Joe Saunders, regional archaeologist.  There is no comparison between reading about the mounds in a book and standing on the sites and listening to stories about them from someone who has studied them so extensively.

Joe tried diligently to teach me the timeline of the mounds … Tchefuncte … Troyville … Coles Creek.  I’m still fuzzy on getting them in the right order but I understand the idea of these people building elaborate sites, living in them for hundreds of years, then building another one just down the road.  In the area around Harrisonburg, LA, the mound sites are within a few miles of each other, literally just next door.

Some of the sites are beautifully maintained, open fields with the mounds clearly visible rising from the flat land.  Others are covered in trees, brush, vines, and poison ivy (and chiggers!).  There are, sadly, so many sites that have been destroyed over recent years and ones that are still being destroyed.  I really thought that as a culture we were enlightened enough to preserve such sacred places at all costs.  It is just beyond my understanding that we would not only allow them to naturally erode from a lack of maintenance but also that we would intentionally destroy them for a temporary profit – an extra acre of corn or, even worse, just out of spite.  We can do better than this, right?

Harrisonburg Mound, estimated date around AD 200 (Marksville period).

The small cemetery on top of the mound.

Thanks again to Joe for a wonderful day.  I look forward to the next installment!!

And thanks to the owners of this site for maintaining it so well.

About Jenny Ellerbe

I am a photographer living, and working, in northeastern Louisiana.
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3 Responses to Ouachita River Valley

  1. Denise says:

    They are so gentle and quiet when rising out of the land, well groomed and respected. A contrast to those mounds left to erosion, neglect and time.

  2. Yeah, it’s just a matter of caring about them. And for them. Thankfully there are so many landowners who do just that. If we can just get the rest of them to do the same.

  3. I live in an area where the farmer plowed the mounds for years. Two are gone. He has stopped plowing the last one so we still have it. I am thankful everyday when I pass the mound that he has stopped.

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