Earthworks Center Calendar for Autumn 2007
Monday, Sept 24
Octagon Earthworks Open to the Public
September 24 is a "golf-free" day at the Octagon Earthworks.
It is one of four days each year when the Moundbuilders Country
Club does not schedule golf and the Ohio Historical Society invites
the public to visit the entire site. We will take all of the History
151 classes to the Octagon that day and we urge everyone to go
as well, and to invite your students and your friends. The Ohio
Historical Society will have staff on site to answer questions
and provide interpretive materials. If you haven’t visited
the Octagon lately, plan to go on Monday!
Monday, Oct 1
Moonrise and Lunar alignment at the Octagon,” Octagon Earthworks,
OHS is planning a program starting at 8 PM – not at the
Octagon, but at the Great Circle. The public is encouraged to
come to the shelter house at the Great Circle, which is on Rt.
79 just east of 21st Street. The program is to last about 2 hours
and the public will be directed to go to the Octagon about 10
Moonrise is at 10:23pm (but it always becomes visible ten or
fifteen minutes later). Plan to arrive 30 minutes before the moonrise.
Site is open to the public only after dark. Bring a flashlight.
No facilities will be available. Check the OHS website for details.
Wednesday, Oct 3
The Ohio Historical Society will hold a public meeting to solicit
comments and ideas about new exhibits for the Visitor Center at
the Great Circle in Newark, OH. In addition, OHS is planning to
conduct a limited archaeological survey prior to installing a
leach bed to improve drainage at the maintenance building along
Cooper Avenue. The meeting will be in Hopewell Hall 68 on the
OSU Newark campus and will begin at 7:00 PM. Dr. Brad Lepper,
Curator of Archaeology, will present ideas and solicit public
reaction. For more information, including directions, call (614)
297-2642. If you’re not able to attend the meeting, OHS
would still like to hear from you. Feel free to contact OHS for
more information on the both the visitor's center project as well
as the archaeological survey.
Saturday, Nov 3
Ohio Archaeological Council Annual Meeting hosted by the Newark
Earthworks Center, Reese Center Auditorium, 9am - 5pm. Morning
sessions focus on research project updates. Afternoon sessions
focus on recent research at Hopewell sites.
Autumn Quarter 2007
Humanities 294 (1 credit) will focus on the Ohio Archaeological
Council's annual meeting. The class will meet twice: the evening
of Oct 22 and all day on November 3. For more information, contact
Dr. Richard Shiels @ email@example.com.
The Newark Earthworks and World Heritage Site Status:
The National Park Service submitted a preliminary list of USA
places to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) for World Heritage status. There are 19
sites on the list, including 6 natural and 13 built sites. Three
combined Ohio sites: Newark Earthworks, Fort Ancient and Hopewell
Culture National Historical Park are ranked second on the list
of man-made sites. There will be a period of several months for
public comment on this tentative list and a final list will be
presented to UNESCO in January.
The Newark Earthworks Center…Ohio State University at Newark…740-364-9574
The Newark Advocate
Help Earthworks get
named to list
grassroots campaign is under way to nominate several ancient
earthworks to the World Heritage Site List. We need your help.
The sites are: the Newark Earthworks in Licking
County; the Serpent Mound in Adams County; Fort Ancient in Warren
County; and the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Ross
The World Heritage Site List is sponsored by
the United Nations. It is a list of places we have inherited from
the past and, hopefully, will leave for future generations. Among
the sites on the list are: the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier
Reef and the Great Wall of China.
Constructed some 2,000 years ago, the four
sites that comprise the Great Earthworks of Ohio include
magnificent, one-of-a-kind earthen structures that forever
commemorate the achievements of the Native American people who built
The Newark Earthworks cover more than four
square miles and include huge, geometrically shaped structures.
Fort Ancient stands as an incredible feat of
construction and is one of the few remaining hilltop enclosures
built by the ancient moundbuilders.
Serpent Mound is the largest effigy of its
kind in the world.
Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
preserves several unique earthworks.
All that needs to be done is to send a
letter or e-mail that says you support the nomination of these four
sites to the World Heritage List. Letters can be sent to: Mr. George
Kane, Director of Facilities Management, Ohio Historical Society,
1982 Velma Ave., Columbus, OH 43211.
You can also e-mail letters to Mr. Kane at:
I urge you to help make a difference.
William F. Romain, Ph.D.
author of "Mysteries of the Hopewell:
Astronomers, Geometers and Magicians of the Eastern Woodlands"
The Newark Advocate
Supporters hope to get Earthworks recognition
Nominations sought in
getting prehistoric site on World Heritage list
NEWARK -- Two city councils will consider tonight a resolution
supporting the nomination of Newark Earthworks to the World Heritage
Site list of the world's most outstanding examples of natural or
If chosen for the
list, the Earthworks would join the likes of The Great Barrier Reef
in Australia, the Pyramids in Egypt, the Great Wall of China, and
the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone national parks in the United
The Newark Earthworks would be part of a
Hopewell culture nomination, which also would include Fort Ancient
in Warren County and the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
in Ross County. Newark and Heath councils have resolutions of
support on tonight's agendas.
The list includes 830 sites in 138
countries, including 20 in the United States, but none from Ohio.
The Ohio Historical Society and Hopewell park have combined to seek
"In my heart of hearts, I think sooner or
later, we'll be on the list," said Dick Shiels, director of Newark
Earthworks and a professor at the Newark campus of Ohio State
University. "I'll be elated if it makes the list. I honestly believe
we have a world-class site."
Shiels said public support is important
before submitting the nomination. The Ohio House and Ohio Senate
also will consider resolutions of support.
The verdict will not be known until 2010,
when the World Heritage Committee makes its decision. The
nomination, though, must be received by the U.S. National Park
Service by April 1.
The Newark Earthworks, constructed about
2,000 years ago as a ceremonial center and social gathering place of
the Hopewell people, represents the largest example in North America
of a geometric enclosure with walls of earth and stone extending
across an area of more than four square miles.
The Earthworks includes three locations --
the Great Circle Earthworks in the south side of Newark off Ohio 79,
the Octagon Earthworks at North 33rd Street and Parkview Road on the
grounds of Moundbuilders Country Club, and Wright Earthworks west of
the Ohio 79 interchange at Grant Street.
The Earthworks has gained stature in recent
years because of new discoveries and acknowledgments, including the
2006 designation as Ohio's official prehistoric monument.
Letters of support for the nomination should
be sent by March 15 to: George M. Kane; Director of Facilities
Management, Ohio Historical Society, 1982 Velma Avenue, Columbus, OH
can be reached at (740) 328-8545 or
The Newark Advocate
Originally published February 13, 2007
committee endorses Newark Earthworks nomination
NEWARK -- The city council's Finance Committee approved Monday a
resolution endorsing the nomination of the Newark Earthworks for
inclusion on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites. The full
council will consider the resolution next week.
The Newark Earthworks, constructed about 2,000
years ago as a ceremonial center and social gathering place of the
Hopewell people, is the largest example in North America of a
geometric enclosure with walls of earth and stone extending over an
area of more than 4 square miles.
World heritage sites represent examples of
the world's cultural and natural heritage. There are 830 sites in
138 countries, including 20 in the United States.
The Ohio Historical Society and the Hopewell
Culture National Historical Park are working together to prepare
nominations of significant archaeological sites in Ohio. The Newark
Earthworks and the Hopewell Park in Ross County have been grouped
together for consideration.
Letters of support for the nomination should
be sent by March 15 to: George M. Kane, Director of Facilities
Management, Ohio Historical Society, 1982 Velma Avenue, Columbus, OH
The Columbus Dispatch
13 February 2007
Octagon Earthworks' alignment with moon likely is no accident
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
BRADLEY T. LEPPER
The Octagon Earthworks in Newark is one remnant of the Newark Earthworks, recently listed by The Dispatch as one of the Seven Wonders of Ohio.
Earlham College professors Ray Hively and Robert Horn demonstrated in 1982 that the walls of this 2,000-yearold circle and octagon were aligned to the points on the horizon, marking the limits of the rising and setting of the moon during an 18.6-year cycle.
The implications of this argument for our understanding of the knowledge and abilities of the ancient American Indian builders of the earthworks are astounding. But how can we know whether they deliberately lined the walls up with the moon or whether the series of alignments is just an odd coincidence?
In the current issue of the Midcontinental Journal of Archaeology, Hively and Horn use statistics to address this question.
And while they acknowledge that they cannot provide a definitive answer, their analyses certainly offer compelling evidence to support their idea that the sites are among the world's earliest astronomical observatories.
Hively and Horn focused on five alignments. These are the main axis of the site, which points toward the maximum northerly rise point of the moon, and the orientation of four of the octagon's eight walls, which align variously with the moon's maximum southern rise point, the minimum northern rise point, the maximum northern set point and the minimum southern set point.
They performed a "Monte Carlo" analysis in which a computer randomly generates more than 10 billion equilateral octagons, randomly aligned them to a compass bearing and then checked how many astronomically significant alignments resulted.
They determined that, even "making the most generous plausible combination of assumptions favoring chance alignments," the odds that the alignments at Newark are merely accidental are about one in a thousand. Using more reasonable assumptions, the odds are more like one in 40 million.
This does not take into account several other lunar alignments incorporated somewhat more subtly into the earthworks. Neither does it consider the fact that Hively and Horn have shown that High Bank Works in Chillicothe, the only other circle and octagon combination built by the Hopewell culture, also is aligned to the same series of lunar rise and set points.
It's a safe bet that these ancient Ohioans understood a lot more about astronomy than most of us have recognized.
Bradley T. Lepper is curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society.
6 November 2006
Earthworks Day draws a crowd.
Posted: November 06, 2006
Reawakening for an ancient
Ohio - A dazzling fall day,
with gold and russet trees against a bright blue sky, greeted the
processional that opened Newark Earthworks Day, an annual shindig that
mixes speeches and scholarly presentations with feasting, conviviality
and prayer. Richard Brings Them, Standing Rock Sioux, led a processional
Newark campus that included traditional
Ohio, such as the
Shawnee, and other
indigenous residents, such as the Lakota, who arrived during the 20th
Native and non-Native scholars, visitors from across the continent and
townspeople of all ages filled the ranks as well. All told, about 300
people turned up to celebrate the 2,000-year-old Newark Earthworks and,
by extension, the architectural, engineering and astronomical
achievements of their builders:
Ohio's original peoples.
The local earthworks - a national historic landmark that is among the
thousands of mounds, or artificial hills, and earthen-walled enclosures
Midwest and Southeast - have captured
the imagination of area residents, many of whom hope the golf course
that currently sits on them may one day relocate. To encourage studies
of the site,
University recently formed the
directed by Richard Shiels, a history professor, and Marti Chaatsmith,
Comanche/Choctaw, program coordinator.
The Newark Earthworks have also drawn the attention of folks around
Ohio. The day's first
speaker, state Sen. Jay Hottinger, described children from a
Newark elementary school
persuading the Legislature to make the site the state prehistoric
monument. At first, Hottinger admitted, he didn't think the kids would
succeed: “I thought they'd simply learn about the
legislative process. But their passion lit a fire.”
Far from being relics of the past, earthworks are part of Native life
today, a point made by Second Chief Alfred Berryhill of the Muscogee
(Creek) Nation, which maintains a mound-building tradition. Jay Miller,
Delaware and director of the American
Indian Studies program at
Berryhill, calling him “a man of great vision” who has revitalized
practices devastated during the Muscogees' removal from their
Georgia homeland to
Oklahoma and has devised
community development programs that include health clinics and
Berryhill, a Methodist minister and speaker of his indigenous language,
opened with a Muscogee hymn and prayer. He went on to describe his
Georgia mounds and
others, such as Cahokia, in
Illinois. Using an overhead
projector, Berryhill then plotted concordances between rituals and
objects of the Old Testament and those of the Creeks. He demonstrated
that the plan of the tabernacle was similar to that of the Creek
ceremonial ground, which is, in turn, represented in the layout,
activities and personnel of today's Creek Christian churches.
Berryhill's saga has been personal: ''When I became a minister and would
ask about the ceremonial ground, my dad, who's also a minister, would
say, ‘That's of the devil.’ But you know us preachers' sons: we disobey
and go find out for ourselves.” His efforts have
also been part of reconstructing his nation's identity. “I'm doing this
so next time someone asks a community member what it means to be Creek,
they'll answer: ‘How much time you got?’”
In a separate interview, Berryhill praised the efforts of scientists
who've studied the mounds: “We should work in concert. Archaeologists
and anthropologists find out things we've forgotten since removal. We
can then incorporate these ideas into our lives.”
Archaeology, however, also drew criticism. “There are things worth
knowing in what archaeologists do,” said Robert Warrior, Osage,
professor of English and Native American Studies at the
Oklahoma, in his
speech. “But there are also well-justified suspicions about archaeology
in Native communities. No regulations or promises will undo the history
of plunder that's unfolded on this continent.” Indeed,
archaeologists have excavated mounds down to several feet below the
earth's surface and removed human remains, grave goods and religious
On the other hand, less invasive disciplines have succeeded in revealing
engaging information. Two
members, philosophy professor Robert Horn, and physics and astronomy
professor Ray Hively, presented their latest research. In a slide
presentation, Hively showed the virtuosic accuracy of the Newark
Earthworks, in terms of both their geometric forms and their many
alignments with celestial events. The site, Hively noted, was built to a
higher standard than that used by modern surveyors. The site is as
gigantic as it is precise, he added, and Stonehenge and
Pyramid could be tucked into its corners.
Equally fascinating were the many geometrical puzzles Hively has found
within the Newark site, including equal perimeters for a square and a
circle and the diameter of that same circle - more than 1,000 feet -
used as a giant yardstick to locate the center points of other
According to Hively, the site's builders may have chosen its location
because of the surrounding topography, where the Newark Earthworks'
major celestial alignments appear to be related to outlying hills and
valleys. In addition to being blessed by the heavens, the tract is
encircled by water in the form of creeks and rivers, thus offering a
schematic of the North American indigenous universe:
by the primordial sea.
And finally, during the site's heyday, materials and artifacts from
across the continent - copper from the Great Lakes region, silver from
Canada, obsidian from the Rockies, mica from the Carolinas and shells
from the Gulf of Mexico - were brought to it, possibly by pilgrims,
according to archaeologist Bradley Lepper. Taken all together, these
characteristics point to the Newark Earthworks having been a place of
great healing power to which worshipers brought these offerings.
The healing continues to this day, said Carol Welsh, Sisseton-Wahpeton
and director of the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio: “In
this magnificent place, we are renewing the sacred. In school, I learned
that my people were savages. But now I see I come from people who were
beautiful and intelligent. I see the sacredness of being Indian.”
© Indian Country Today November 06, 2006. All Rights Reserved
as published in
6 November 2006
indigenous people struggle against anonymity
Posted: November 06, 2006
Ohio - Barbara Crandell, Cherokee, and
Shawnee, spoke to Indian Country Today
during Newark Earthworks Day, sponsored by
Center. The October
event brought together Native and non-Native experts to speak on
2,000-year-old mounds and earthen-walled enclosures constructed by
ancient indigenous people of the region.
Griffin are members of the Native
American Alliance of Ohio, a consortium of Eastern Woodland Indians
founded in 1992 to increase public awareness of indigenous people in
Ohio and to preserve mounds
and other sacred sites.
Indian Country Today: What are the central issues for
Ohio's indigenous people?
Barbara Crandell: This state has no federally recognized tribes, so
Native people here have no laws or power to count on. All we have is
reason, which we use to point out the advantages of not destroying
sacred sites and burial grounds. However, our politicians, like all
politicians, go out of their way to expend energy to do nothing. We must
have a commission of Native people, selected by Native people, so if a
problem arises, like construction that would disturb a sacred site or
burial, we can negotiate with the state.
Helen Griffin: Identity is another major problem. When my grandson went
to preschool, he'd say, “My name is Little Bear.” The
teacher kept asking his name and insisted - even to his mother, when she
came to pick him up after school - that he say the name on his birth
certificate. So we cannot be ourselves.
My husband, who is Potawatomi, and I live in the old way. He and our
sons still bow-hunt, still offer tobacco for the life of the animal. So
we continue in our homes and our hearts; but outside of that, we are
erased. Those of us who remained when many of
Ohio's Native people were
removed to the West during the 19th century hid in the caverns and
caves. My ancestors got away. But then we never obtained the federal
recognition that those who went west have.
ICT: Has your group had successes you'd like to mention?
Crandell: In 1997, the Department of Energy set aside green space to
rebury the remains of 26 people who had been disturbed in the laying of
a pipeline. One hundred people came to the reburial. We had invited
every Native person we could think of. NAAO wants everyone included.
ICT: During Newark Earthworks day, astronomer Ray Hively showed that the
earthworks here were built in relation to surrounding hills, valleys and
rivers. Some were also connected by long passageways. And earthworks all
Ohio have similar shapes
and sizes. So they're not isolated, but rather part of an immense sacred
landscape. How do you save that?
Griffin: So much has been
destroyed by centuries of farming and building, you probably can't. But
it's up to Native people here to protect what's left.
ICT: At Newark Earthworks Day, the audience was so enthusiastic about
the mounds. Are Ohioans learning to appreciate them?
Crandell: Yes, but scientists and others have to listen to Native
people. The stories coming down from my family said the old prophets
laid out the mounds. At the Circle and Octagon [part of a national
historic landmark in
Newark], the Circle was for
sacred things and the Octagon was for games, meetings, campfires and
having parties. Also, the mounds are much older than 2,000 years. My
mother and grandmother said they were as many as 5,000 years old. But no
one wants to admit that before Christ was born, we had a structured
society and spirituality. That would mean Native people were credible.
We knew what to do with our lives; we knew how to say our prayers. No
one pays attention to these stories.
We did not have television and radio when I was growing up. But we did
have elders telling stories - and we listened.
© Indian Country Today November 06, 2006. All Rights Reserved
as published in the
Advocate October 15, 2006
Hundreds turn out for Earthworks
NEWARK -- With rhythmic
pounding, distinct wailing song and the soft jingling of bells, Native
Americans in traditional garb led a processional of guests to a Native
The second yearly Newark Earthworks Day, which drew
hundreds of guests, was Saturday at Newark Campus of Ohio State
University and Central Ohio Technical College. The feast, which began
at about 6 p.m., brought the day to a close.
People were treated to such fare as buffalo and turkey and
entertained by the drummers and dancers from the Native American
Indian Center of Columbus. The feast also gave people an opportunity
to visit with each other and discuss the day's events.
Phillip and Candi O'Neill, of Newark, brought their children Jacob,
5, and Brad, 3, to Earthworks Day.
"I'm really into prehistoric people, especially locally," Candi
said, explaining it had been her idea to attend.
Jacob and Brad enjoyed the opportunity to try beading, weaving and
pump drilling, which was a method used to make fire.
Phillip particularly enjoyed Dr. Bradley Lepper's talk on "The
Shaman of the Newark Earthworks" and the closing, while Candi enjoyed
the dancers, the artifacts and hearing about the significance of
Both enjoyed the processional.
"I never heard them singing like that before," Phillip said.
Ray and Victoria Picton brought their daughter Sasha, 6, to the
festivities. The family is from Salisbury, England, and Ray is in
Newark teaching Mary Borgia's class at Miller Elementary School while
Borgia teaches at his school near Stonehenge.
"Sasha came and tried all the childrens activities this morning and
had a go at weaving, which is a lot more difficult than it looks,"
Victoria is interested in learning more about the folklore and
traditions of the Native Americans to pass on to Sasha.
Ray said he thinks an event such as Earthworks Day is important
because the stories the Native Americans have to tell are important.
He is excited to share the stories with his students back in England.
"I always think sharing stories is a good way of sharing culture,"
Ray said it also was beneficial for him to learn more about the
earthworks, as he will be able to take that back with him to England.
He said they're interested in making the earthworks and Stonehenge
Craig Asplund, of Granville, said he attended several talks in the
afternoon as he was interested in the physics and geometry of the
Newark Earthworks as well as Lepper's talk on the Shaman.
"I really enjoyed them," Asplund said. "I think some of those would
be great PBS specials."
Sherry Blackbear, 20, and Afton Smith, 14, who were wearing
traditional Jingle Dresses, performed after the feast.
Smith said the dress represents wellness, and Blackbear explained
the dance they perform is a healing dance. Traditionally, it was
thought if they prayed for the sick and performed this dance, the
people would get better.
Blackbear and Smith have been dancing since they were 4 and 5 years
old, respectively. They perform all around the country.
Blackbear said she likes to perform "because it's our culture --
it's what we were raised."
Dr. Richard Shiels, associate professor of history at OSU-Newark
and COTC and interim director of the Newark Earthworks Center, said
people came from as far as San Antonio to learn more about the
"It was a wonderful day," he said. "We're delighted."
Jen Scherer can be reached at (740)
as published in the
Advocate October 12, 2006
Viewers come to mounds moonrise
despite cloud cover
NEWARK -- While cloud cover
made it difficult to see the moon Wednesday, people still felt the
history of the Octagon Mound.
About 50 people gathered at
Moundbuilders Country Club and walked into the Octagon Mound to watch
the moon rise along the axis, or straight line that connects the
Octagon and Circle mounds. Wednesday's moonrise was close to the
northernmost point of the 18.6-year cycle.
"You can still see the moon with your heart," Dave Lee, of Heath,
said, looking out over the mound. "Maybe that's creator's message
today. Look with your heart. Look with your faith. It's still there."
Lee, a member of the Saponi Nation, is a regular visitor to the
Newark Earthworks, and the place is sacred to him. He has witnessed
the moonrise at the Octagon Mound many times.
"It's very stirring when I come to a place (where) the very dust on
the ground that we walk on is my ancestors ... is my children's
ancestors," Lee said. "Certain places have a little bit of extra
Lee has come to the mounds during times when he was hurting and
found comfort there.
"I've personally gained quite a bit from these mounds," Lee said.
Joellen Back, of Newark, was reluctant to leave the mounds, feeling
at any moment the clouds might part to show the moon in all its glory.
Despite the clouds, Back said she still was able to feel the history
of the mounds.
"It was a serene feeling," she said. "It was just so peaceful."
Back said it helped to empty her mind of noise and just think about
Native Americans and their lives hundreds of years ago.
"You can just feel the history in the mounds, and it's just
mind-boggling to me," Back said.
Linda Woolard, who helped spearhead a Miller Elementary School
class's efforts to designate the Newark Earthworks as Ohio's official
prehistoric site, came Monday night to the Octagon Mound and happened
to see the moonrise.
"I had these feelings come over me that were just so special,"
Woolard said. "To think that they did this was incredible."
Several students who worked on the legislation came to the moonrise
celebration despite the cool, rainy weather. Woolard said she can't
wait for the next one in 18.6 years, as she and the students have
planned a reunion for the event.
Diana Huffman, of Granville, brought her daughters Demie, 12, and
Dani, 9, to see the moonrise. She was writing a paper for Columbus
State Community College.
"I just think that we destroyed a lot of it, not realizing it had
significance," Huffman said.
Dan Gartner, a club board member, urged people to close their eyes
and painted a picture of Native Americans watching a moonrise and
planning their crops.
Gartner said afterward it might not be a terrible thing there was
"Really, you can't see the moonrise because of the trees," Gartner
said. "Maybe seeing it in the mind's eye was better."
One complaint was voiced by Lee, who was disturbed and hurt by the
police officers present at a gathering that was spiritual. He lit
incense and said a prayer to cleanse away the hurt.
Jen Scherer can be reached at (740)
___As published in The
Church, state, people and
We have the head of state of
a sovereign nation, and a religious leader, visiting Licking County
next weekend. Actually, a co-head, because the Creek Nation of
Oklahoma traditionally has two.
Some Americans have trouble
understanding how Indian tribes can be sovereign nations, but that's
what many of our ancestors set up when they made treaties with some of
the now 500 Native American groups found around this country, some in
reservation-based arrangements, others living in a more geographically
As Vine Deloria liked to point out to Anglo audiences, "you said
these rights would be ours as long as the grass grew and the water
flowed. Then you put us in places where no grass grew and no water
flows." Deloria's father and grandfather might have been Lutheran
ministers, but their Lakota roots never left the soil they drew
strength from, no matter how dry the ground.
The Honorable Alfred Berryhill is coming from The Mound, Okla., to
be one of a day full of guest speakers at the Newark Campus of Ohio
State University for "Newark Earthworks Day" Oct. 14. Beginning with a
Native American-style procession into the Reese Center on campus at 9
a.m., local speakers and visitors from Illinois, Indiana and Oklahoma
will share perspectives on our 2,000-year-old wonders.
Indians, archaeologists, astronomers, schoolteachers and even a
local columnist (as the emcee) will fill out the day until 5 p.m. The
day will close with a feast in Hopewell Hall cafeteria ($10 for adults
and free to children 12 and younger); the rest of the day is free and
open to the public, thanks to the work of OSU-N's Newark Earthworks
I particularly am interested in hearing Mr. Berryhill, as we've
learned in recent years that the Creek and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago)
Indians still build mounds as part of their ceremonial year. Much of
their tradition and practice is not for all eyes or public
description, but elements are intended for an interested public,
native and non-native, and we hope to learn and share much in that
There are still many stereotypes and images we have to overcome in
communicating between cultures in this world, and my own involvement
with the "moonrise efforts" during the last few years has taught me
much about how my own assumptions deserve challenging and how to
respectfully challenge the preconceptions of others.
For instance, some ask me "Jeff, what's the right manner of address
here? Indian is OK? Or should I say American Indian? And some say
Native American." Well, you can see in this piece I've used all three:
You have to do what you'd do with any new friend or acquaintance. Ask
them what they would like to be called. Some have strong opinions as
to which "label," while others prefer only tribal affiliation, such as
"Dine" or "Cherokee." A few just say "Call me Bob." But you need to
ask and respect their choice.
And as for assumptions ... that two-chief thing? I asked if that
signified "war chief and peace chief" or some other distinction. I
wasn't expecting the answer I got.
Turns out that, after some debate and discussion 100 years ago, the
current understanding among the Creek is one chief is always Baptist,
and the other is ... Methodist. The Honorable Alfred Berryhill is a
second-generation Methodist pastor who is honored for having collected
hymns in his native language together for congregational use. And he
builds mounds with his people.
I can't wait to hear what he has to say and to simply listen.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller
and supply preacher around Central Ohio; he's been known to emcee an
event or two, too. Check
www.octagonmoonrise.org for details about Newark Earthworks Day
and the speakers, or e-mail Jeff at
|As published in
Indian Country Today
04, 2006 by:
Politics obscure spirituality of mound
NEWARK, Ohio - ''Look, we've won,'' quipped Mark Welsh, Yankton
Dakota/Mohawk, as he stood on a wooden viewing tower and watched
golfers plant a white pennant on a hole of the Moundbuilders Country
Club golf course. ''They're surrendering.''
The golf course sits on the Newark Earthworks, the world's largest
mound complex, built 2,000 years ago by ancestral indigenous people in
what was then a managed prairie landscape, kept largely free of trees
by periodic burning. The site includes grass-covered, precisely
sculpted earthen walls defining a 20-acre circle and a 50-acre
octagon, as well as freestanding mounds, or artificial hills. Portions
of the vast installation align with important lunar events - including
the northernmost and southernmost rises and sets of the moon's
18.6-year cycle. Walled roads as long as 60 miles appear to have
connected it to other mound complexes around central Ohio.
Denison College professor emeritus of physics and astronomy Michael
Mickelson called the site ''an ancient solid-state lunar computer,''
and a British archaeologist cataloging wonders of the ancient world
recently placed it on the list.
Welsh was joined on the viewing tower by a group that's working to
obtain meaningful public access to the complex, including Marti
Chaatsmith, Comanche/Choctaw, program coordinator of the Newark
Earthworks Center, a program of Ohio State University at Newark;
Christine Ballengee-Morris, Eastern Band Cherokee, art education
professor at OSU's main campus in Columbus; Carol Welsh,
Sisseton-Wahpeton, director of the Native American Indian Center of
Central Ohio, in Columbus; and several community members.
This year, Oct. 14 is Newark Earthworks Day. NAICCO, Denison
University, Newark Earthworks Center and other organizations will draw
attention to indigenous people's concerns with speakers, music and
more on the OSU-Newark campus.
The Ohio Historical Society, a private nonprofit, owns the tract and
has leased it to the country club since the early 20th century. The
first leases stipulated that the earthworks be ''restored and
preserved'' and that non-club members be allowed entry. These
requirements disappeared in later leases, which currently net OHS
about $30,000 annually, a small fraction of its multi-million-dollar
budget. The most recent deal, in 1997, extended the club's tenure from
2028 to 2078.
Except for a few golf-free days each year, non-club members may view
the earthworks only from the tower and a short sidewalk. Arranging
additional access has been difficult. In 2002, Barbara Crandell, a
Cherokee elder praying at the site, was told to leave by course
personnel. When she refused, she was arrested and later convicted of
criminal trespass, according to court documents.
During 2005 and 2006, the Newark Earthworks Center negotiated with OHS
to schedule events at the mounds to celebrate the northernmost
moonrises of the current cycle. After the programs, the center's staff
reported to OHS that at various times country club representatives
shut down the site at the last minute, refused to provide golf carts
to elderly guests, walked - cocktails in hand - across the mounds and
blasted the tract with disco music.
A public moonrise viewing that OHS itself had arranged for later this
fall was recently canceled. ''In negotiating with the club, we were
unable to obtain reasonable access for what we felt was a community
learning experience,'' said OHS spokesman Kathy Hoke.
The difficulties weren't confined to those events, added Jeff Gill, a
minister who leads OHS tours. He described golfers hitting balls
toward Native people, reporters and others over the years.
At one point, non-club members were offered Monday mornings as a
visiting time, only to encounter workers in hazmat suits applying
chemicals as part of regular course maintenance.
''Seeing the treatment Native people are subjected to has shocked
non-Native people who've gotten involved,'' said Chaatsmith. ''Much of
this has been so negative that most of our conversation has been about
that, and about archaeology, and not about the sacredness of this
place. Ohio is a state where removals occurred, so a lot of Native
history has not been told, and Native voices have not been heard.''
Country club representatives did not respond to requests for a
comment, but OHS did. ''We are aware things happened and are moving
forward with the circumstances we have,'' said Hoke. ''We're hoping to
dialogue with all concerned and shift the focus to the significance of
Despite the negativity, moonrise events that did take place were
meaningful to participants. ''Grandmother Moon came, and we were
there,'' said Ballengee-Morris. ''It brought tears to my eyes.''
Ensuring access for Native people is a moral issue, said Richard
Shiels, OSU-Newark history professor and interim director of Newark
Earthworks Center, who noted that protecting the mounds is critical,
too. Since they're privately owned, national preservation law doesn't
apply. There is a management plan; however, OHS hasn't formally
accepted it, and the site remains vulnerable.
For nearly a century, the country club has dug into the mounds to
install tees, putting greens, sidewalks, a sprinkler system, about 40
memorial plaques and more. ''The first clubhouse destroyed 100 feet of
the circle,'' said Shiels. ''Who knows what was lost when the pool
Additional damage occurs during the off-season. Community member Gail
Zion has observed the tracks of ATVs, dog walkers and cross-country
skiers in winter. ''The ground is soft then, so they dig up the
surface,'' she said.
Further, maintenance the ancestral builders would have undertaken is
no longer done, including removal of trees that are growing on the
walls and damaging them with their roots.
Said Mark Welsh: ''Native people in Ohio are trying to talk sense into
the general population - to help them understand what a gift we have
here and how it honors God. Someday we'll take it back, and the golf
course will go away. Just a theory. History will prove me right or
Country Today article continued
Ancient road gets reprieve
A 192-acre parcel that includes the last 250 feet of a 2,000-year-old road
has just been rezoned from agricultural to commercial use in preparation
for sale to a developer, confirmed John Groff, chief of the division of
building and zoning in Heath, Ohio. Ancestral indigenous people
constructed the straight, 200-foot-wide walled boulevard, which connected
the Newark Earthworks, a mound complex in nearby Newark, with another
major mound grouping 60 miles away.
Archaeologist Bradley Lepper has been documenting the thoroughfare by
examining aerial and infrared photographs, post-contact maps and more. It
was likely a ceremonial road, he said: ''It's much bigger than necessary
for practical reasons. Its straightness and scale implies sacred
The zoning change sent shivers through the local Native community and
their supporters, who are already embroiled in controversies surrounding
the Newark complex.
Not to worry, said David Palchesko, a vice president of Chase Properties
Ltd., the developer of the retail center proposed for the site. ''We're
aware of area with the road. We're discussing whether we'll keep it, give
it to the city or whatever, but we're not going to destroy it.''
''Many Ohio earthworks, including the much of the ceremonial road, sit on
land that's privately owned or leased,'' said Marti Chaatsmith, Comanche/
Choctaw, program coordinator of the Newark Earthworks Center. ''So, their
preservation depends on educating the public, including developers, about
not just their historical meaning, but their contemporary religious
significance. Native people still come to these places to pray. Protecting
the places is important to maintaining Indian cultural identity and
For Immediate Release -
GOV. BOB TAFT TO SIGN S.B. 271 AT OCTAGON
set for 10 a.m. June 7
(Newark City Schools, Newark, Ohio) – The Newark Earthworks will
become Ohio’s official prehistoric monument after Governor Bob Taft
signs the bill into law at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 7. The
signing ceremony will be held in Octagon State Memorial, a section of
the Newark Earthworks. The state memorial is located at Moundbuilders
County Club, 125 N. 33rd St., Newark. The
ceremony will last approximately 45 minutes.
The entire student body of Miller Elementary School will enter
Observatory Circle, which is attached to the Octagon, at 9:45 a.m.
With the signing of S.B. 271, Ohio has three state symbols and one
motto that have been suggested by schoolchildren. The others are:
black racer snake, which was suggested by Dayton schoolchildren. It
was named the state reptile in 1992.
motto, “With God all things are possible,” which was suggested by a
12-year-old from Cincinnati.
suggested the ladybug be named the state insect in 1975.
The bill to name the Newark Earthworks as Ohio’s official prehistoric
monument began when a handful of fourth graders in the classes of
teachers Linda Woolard and Mary Borgia were interested and inspired by
their lessons on the mound and local American Indian history.
They wrote Sen. Hottinger, who then sponsored S.B. 271.
"I am extremely proud of the fourth grade students at Miller
Elementary for their hard work on Senate Bill 271 and their patience
with the legislative process. The passage of S.B. 271 that designates
the Newark Earthworks as the official state prehistoric monument has
been a tremendous learning experience for the students and I
hope their interest in all levels of government continues,” Sen.
Newark has the largest geometric earthworks in the world. The mounds
align with part of the lunar cycle once every 18.6 years. A Cambridge
University archaeologist named the Newark Earthworks one of the 70
wonders of the ancient world.
Ms. Woolard and Ms. Borgia credit Bill Hughes, a former social studies
teacher at Miller ES, and Brad Lepper, an Ohio Historical Society
archaeologist, for helping students go beyond the textbooks and learn
more about Native American culture in Ohio.
# # #
published in The New York Times
By CHRISTOPHER MAAG
Published: November 28, 2005
To read this article directly from the New York Times
please click here.
- The Hopewell Indians used sharp sticks and clamshells here 2,000
years ago to sculpture seven million cubic feet of dirt into a
sprawling lunar observatory and the spiritual center of their
Today it is an easy Par 3 flanked by sand traps shaped like kidney
For generations, few thought it strange that golfers at the
Moundbuilders Country Club whacked little white balls across ground
once hallowed to an ancient community. But now there is an eagerness
among many people to see moonrises from the mounds the way the Indians
did, a desire that has caused a conflict with the golf club.
The Newark Earthworks, which make up the world's largest ancient
mound site, lingered in obscurity 30 miles east of Columbus until five
years ago, when the country club announced plans for a new clubhouse.
The design included a foundation that would have dug into the mounds.
Not only did the club not win permission for a new building, but its
request led to an organized protest campaign, organized by local
professors and American Indians. Some residents, newly aware of the
landmark in their backyards, began to question whether the country
club should exist at all.
"Playing golf on a Native American spiritual site is a fundamental
desecration," said Richard Shiels, a history professor at Ohio State
University's Newark campus who is leading the fight to expand public
The earthworks range in height from 3 to 14 feet and once sprawled
over four square miles. They include an octagon large enough to hold
four Roman Colosseums; two parallel mounds connect it to a circle that
encloses 20 acres. Their construction required decades of labor.
"When you go there and stand by it, all you see is a mound of earth
curving off into the distance,"said Brad Lepper, an Ohio Historical
Society archaeologist. "Only when you see aerial photos of it do you
realize how complicated it is."
The mounds' purpose remained a mystery until 1982, when professors
from Earlham College in Richmond,Ind., discovered that they aligned
perfectly with part of the lunar cycle. Once every 18.6 years, the
moon rises at the northernmost point in its orbit. Pregnant and huge,
its light framed by rounded earth, the moon hovers within one-half of
a degree of the octagon's exact center. This makes the Newark
Earthworks twice as precise as the lunar observatory at Stonehenge.
(Stonehenge could fit inside the mounds' aligning circle, one of the
smaller geometric shapes at the Newark site.)
The discovery prompted Chris Scarre, a Cambridge University
archaeologist, to name the Newark mounds among the 70 wonders of the
ancient world, one of only three such sites in the United States.
"This isn't just something you do for laughs on a Saturday
afternoon," said Ray Hively, an Earlham history professor who found
the alignments with a philosophy professor, Robert Horn. "They
probably believed the moon was a powerful and divine object, and they
wanted to get its attention by building something so huge and so
precise that the moon would see them."
The historical society owns the site and has leased it to the golf
club since 1933, on the condition that club leaders allow the public
onto the mounds. But people's hopes of watching the moon rise over the
sculptured ground have met with difficulties.
On Nov. 18 at moonrise - precisely 7:03 p.m. - about 100 people
stood on a hilltop a mile from the earthworks and watched the tip of
the moon rise above a distant ridge. But it was not the event that
organizers had planned.
After the club proposed its new clubhouse, a group of citizens
created the Moonrise Committee to educate the public about the
earthworks. They also planned a moonrise celebration on the mounds.
Club leaders balked. They demanded the committee raise $23,252 to pay
for insurance, off-duty police officers and a temporary platform to
keep the public off the grass.
"We have a lease, and we have rights," said Ralph Burpee, the club's
Organizers say they believe the conditions amounted to extortion.
"Mr. Burpee and his club put one hurdle after another in front of us,"
Dr. Shiels said.
It rained the morning of Oct. 22, the original day of the event. The
club, saying its greens would be destroyed, barred the public.
Nevertheless, a few dozen golf club members attending a charity event
walked onto the mounds and watched the moonrise.
Committee leaders tried to re-schedule the event for Nov. 18. On
neither date was the moon truly at its northernmost point, but it was
close. Mr. Burpee said that rescheduling for that day was never part
of the deal. Dr. Shiels said it was. The club prevailed, sending the
public to a hill in a nearby public park.
"The most prominent people in town belong to this club, and they are
using their power to keep the public off this important site," Dr.
Mr. Burpee said: "Everyone would love to portray us as rich fat
cats. Well, this is Newark, Ohio, which pretty much precludes rich fat
The true northernmost moonrise will occur at 1 a.m. on a Friday next
fall. The Moonrise Committee is already trying to plan the monumental
task of moving thousands of people onto the mounds without disturbing
the grass. "It will be difficult," Dr. Shiels said. "These things
can't be done at the drop of a hat."