While my wife is in Alaska, I’ve been experiencing her stay-at-home mom life for going on five days now, and one important technique I have learned now is the importance of burning off excess energy at regular intervals. Particularly for the boys, if energy is allowed to build up, it finds a way to escape, usually by way of fighting, irritating whoever is around, or getting hurt. In an effort to avoid all of this, we visited one of my favorite nearby spots today, the prehistoric mounds on the edge of the Etowah River.
The place has an interesting and ancient history. From Wikipedia:
In the 19th century, European-American settlers mistakenly believed that the mounds had been built by the Cherokee, who then occupied the region…
Late 20th-century studies showed the mounds were built and occupied by prehistoric indigenous peoples of the South Appalachian Mississippian culture (a regional variation of the Mississippian culture) of eastern North America. They were ancestors of the historic Muskogean language-speaking Muscogee (Creek) people who later emerged in the area. Etowah is a Muskogee word derived from italwa meaning “town”. The federally recognized Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Poarch Band of Creek Indians consider Etalwa to be their most important ancestral town.
Just the fact that this particular patch of earth has been lived on for so long and is now preserved to remember that fact makes it a place of unique perspective for me. Walking through the field approaching the Chief’s Mound, I can’t help but imagine what it might have been like at one of those earlier times – battles fought around the perimeter trenches, fishing and swimming in the river, the amount of effort that must have gone into the mounds construction…
The kids scale the mounds, no trouble, but I do manage to detect a slight slowing by the time they got to the second mounds. Makes me wonder if that wasn’t the wise chief’s motivation – to discourage too many visitors and to ensure that anyone who did come for a visit was suitable tired by the time they got there!
I love this place for a few reasons, but probably my favorite feature is the shady grove of trees between the mounds and the river. It’s a spot with ample shade, a clear view of the Etowah and the merging in of Pumpkinvine Creek. It’s a place I could hang out all day if I was solo and had thought to bring a hammock and a fishing rod.
As with my last visit, I think I need to come back here for a longer visit sans kids so I can study the museum and watch the excavation film. I’d like to get a better grasp of the history and purpose of the place and how it connects to Mississippian culture moving up into the midwest.