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Local News

Bill to create Ocmulgee Mounds National Park near Macon gets broad backing from Georgia delegation

Credit: iStock

by Ross Williams, Georgia Recorder
May 3, 2024

If you could travel back in time to visit the Macon Plateau of more than a thousand years ago, you’d see a community made up of ancestors of the Muscogee people living, meeting, growing food and burying their dead in earthen mounds, some of which are still around today. Soon, some of that land could be preserved in America’s newest national park, and the first one in the state of Georgia.

A bipartisan group of Georgia Congressional legislators from both chambers are backing a new bill that would designate the area as the Ocmulgee Mounds National Park and Preserve. Proposed boundaries of the new National Park and Preserve. Via Sen. Ossoff’s Office.

Tracie Revis, a citizen of the Muscogee Nation and the director of advocacy for the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative, said she’s especially pleased that the proposed legislation gives the nation a say in creating the park’s management plan and allows for co-management with the National Park Service.

“We built our homes here,” she said. “We built these ancient civilizations in these lands here in Middle Georgia, and given the history of the country, we were removed into Oklahoma. So this legislation gives us the opportunity to not only come back and be in the land but help manage and maintain our home again. It allows us to restore our voices for our people that are buried here and for all of those stories all across the state. So from the nation standpoint and from an indigenous person standpoint, it truly is an incredible opportunity for us, and it is a humbling one, and we’re so grateful for our members who have stood beside us, who’ve listened to us, to put us back in that position.”

Revis, the first woman to serve as Chief of Staff to the Principal Chief of the Muscogee Nation, said only four national parks have similar arrangements.

In a virtual press conference Thursday, Sen. Jon Ossoff expressed confidence that the proposal will move through Congress.

“This is not by any means a done deal, but we are in about as strong a position as you can be at this point in the process, given the depth of local support, the collaboration with the tribe, and the bipartisan support across the congressional delegation,” he said.

Ossoff introduced the Ocmulgee Mounds Park and Preserve Establishment Act, cosponsored by fellow Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in the Senate Wednesday.

In the House, Republican Rep. Austin Scott and Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop introduced similar legislation, cosponsored by all of Georgia’s Congress members except for Congressman Andrew Clyde.

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Pro Tempore and Executive Director of the Ocmulgee National Park and Preserve Initiative Seth C. Clark said the park would represent one of the largest expansions of hunting and fishing lands in the state, and could bring an estimated $230 million to middle Georgia.

“That by itself is how we take care of ourselves,” he said. “It’s how we reimagine our local economy with a sense of ecotourism so that it is viable for the next generation. This legislation offers a path full co -management with the Muscogee Creek Nation, who is our strongest ally in this and in partner in this project, which means the world, not just to the park units management, but to the identity of middle Georgia and the reconciliation that it’s offering these two communities is really hard to put into words, but it’s very special and it’s a very historic aspect of this legislation.

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This story is republished from Georgia Recorder under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.