HOUSTON – The Indian mounds in Chickasaw County probably raise more questions than they can ever answer.
But the Chickasaw County Historical & Genealogical Society will offer some answers at a program set for 7 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Chickasaw County Heritage Museum on Woodland Circle in Joe Brigance Park.
Historical Society President Larry Davis said Dr. Janet Rafferty, professor of the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Culture at Mississippi State University, and Nicole Erickson, a graduate student at MSU, will be the guest speakers.
“Being able to share our county’s heritage with a younger generation helps preserve the history of Chickasaw County,” said Davis. “While myths and legends can make wonderful stories, passing along correct information is vital to the listener.”
The topic for the evening will be “Chickasaw County Mound Sites: Thelma and Owl Creek.” The goal will be to refresh local residents on the science and history of the mounds and update and inform the community about historic Indian mounds in Chickasaw County.
“Dr. Rafferty is an archaeologist specializing in understanding changes in prehistoric Indian land use in Mississippi,” said Davis. “She has led research projects that include Thelma and Owl Creek Mounds in Chickasaw County and Ingomar Mound in Union County.”
Davis pointed out Rafferty has completed extensive archeological surveys in Chickasaw, Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties.
“Nicole Erickson graduated from MSU with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology with an emphasis in evolutionary archeology,” said Davis. “She is currently a third-year graduate student working on completing her thesis on Thelma Mounds.”
Owl Creek Mounds is located just off the Natchez Trace at milepost 243 and is protected by the U.S. Forest Service. It is an important Native American ceremonial site and the two current mounds are part of what used to be a 5-mound complex.
The mounds were built and used by farming people belonging to the Mississippian culture, A.D. 1000 to 1500. The archaeological site includes two large mounds, walkways and interpretive panels.
No one knows why the mounds were abandoned after only about 100 years, although theories range from disease to some natural catastrophe such as drought.
Thelma Mound is a restricted site on private property and is listed as such to stop poaching of Indian relics from the mound.
It is linked to the Early Mississippian/Late Woodland era. Details about this mound are spotty as no extensive excavation has ever been conducted at the site.
Davis said the Thursday night meeting is free and open to the public.
For more information about this meeting or the Historical Society, contact Davis at 456-9787.