WICKLIFFE, KY (8/3/12) – Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site will host a ceremony Thursday, Aug. 23, to acknowledge the reburial of excavated remains and restoration of the burial mound. The 10 a.m. CDT program will include officials from the Chickasaw Nation and the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.
Wickliffe Mounds is an archaeological site of a Native American village of the Mississippian culture. The site was first excavated in the 1930s by a private owner, revealing numerous burials that were placed on public view.
Murray State University took over the site in 1983 and sponsored archaeological field schools and scientific research under the direction of a professional archaeologist, Dr. Kit Wesler.
In 1991, after the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, the remains were taken from public view and the cemetery exhibit was updated with new interpretive information, including replicas of a few burials. Forensic studies of the remains were performed and consultations with Native Americans began.
In 2004, the site was transferred to the Kentucky Department of Parks and became a state historic site. The remains were kept in a secure area until consultations with Native American tribes, archaeologists and further documentation could be completed.
The Chickasaw Nation has been working with Wickliffe Mounds representatives, Kentucky State Parks, other Native American tribes, archaeologists from Murray State University and the Kentucky Heritage Council for some time on an agreement for a reburial of the remains.
“It is gratifying to reach this agreement, because we have a solemn responsibility to see that our ancestors are treated with the respect they deserve,” said Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby.
The cemetery mound project included a reburial of the Native American remains and reconstruction of the original burial mound. The Chickasaw Nation, a federally recognized tribe that has taken the leading role in consultations with Wickliffe Mounds and Kentucky State Parks, oversaw the reburial in June 2011. Wesler, of the Department of Geosciences, Murray State University, provided the archaeological support.
The park continues to develop new interpretive information to tell the story of the Mississippian people who occupied the site at Wickliffe Mounds nearly a thousand years ago, creating an educational park for all visitors to experience today.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony, which will include the Chickasaw Nation Dance Troupe. Marcheta Sparrow, secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet; Elaine Walker, commissioner of the Department of Parks; and Jefferson Keel, Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, are scheduled to attend, along with the staff and volunteers of Wickliffe Mounds State Historic Site.
The Aug. 23 ceremony and museum admission are free of charge.
Information provided by Gil Lawson (Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet)
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