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Acquisition More than Doubles the Size of Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Image Credit: Mac Stone

MACON, Ga. (Feb. 9, 2022)—The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, National Park Service, Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative, National Park Foundation, and the Open Space Institute (OSI) announced today a historic addition to the Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park (Park). The property more than doubles the size of the park and provides additional protection for some of the most significant prehistoric Indigenous mounds in North America. 

The newly protected 951-acre property is located adjacent to the park and inside the city limits of Macon. The property was under threat of incompatible industrial development before OSI negotiated a deal to purchase the land in 2021. The project is the result of a major expansion of the park in 2019, quadrupling the authorized boundary from 701 acres to more than 3,000 acres, setting the stage to expand a unique urban park that tells the story of 17,000 years of continuous human habitation of the Ocmulgee basin.

With the protection of the property, 906 acres will be immediately transferred to the National Park Service (NPS) as an addition to the park. Meanwhile, the remaining 45 acres will be transferred to the Ocmulgee Land Trust, which will hold the land while wetlands restoration occurs, and then donate it to the NPS. The Open Space Institute negotiated the contracts and managed the transactions until transfer to NPS and Ocmulgee Land Trust.

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The Earth Lodge, dated to 1015 AD, was built by the Mississippian culture and later restored from archaeological evidence and is part of Ocmulgee National Monument.
Image Credit: Mac Stone

The newly acquired property is located to the east of the previous park boundary and situated within the “Ocmulgee Old Fields,” also known as the Macon Reserve, a three-by-five-mile site revered as a sacred place to Muskogean people. The Ocmulgee Old Fields-Macon Reserve is comprised of lands specifically retained by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation from 1805 until the 1826 Treaty of Washington, which in addition to other treaties culminated in removing the Muskogean people from their ancestral home to present-day Oklahoma.

“This additional property includes some of our most important unprotected ancestral lands. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation have a long-standing history of preserving the Ocmulgee Old Fields-Macon Reserve. We have never forgotten where we came from and the lands around the Ocmulgee River will always and forever be our ancestral homeland, a place we consider sacred and a place with rich cultural history,” said David Hill, principal chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

“It is our solemn duty and honor to protect our nation’s most significant lands. It’s even more critical that we work collaboratively with Tribal nations to ensure proper conservation and access. The National Park Service will continue to work with willing sellers to preserve the culturally significant land associated with the Ocmulgee Old Fields,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams.

“Our gratitude to all who worked on one of the most significant projects in Middle Georgia’s and our country’s history is hard to put into words,” said Chris Sheridan, board president of the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative. “To the landowners and partners who want to see their land put to its highest and best use, and to the donors whose farsightedness and generosity are unmatched, the stewards of these sacred lands we call home are forever grateful.”

“This addition to Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park demonstrates the importance of collaboration between the National Park Service, Tribal governments and other partners,” said Will Shafroth, president and CEO of the National Park Foundation. “The National Park Foundation is committed to the collective effort to preserve this land that honors and expands our understanding of the past and present contributions of the Muskogean people.”

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