I visited three specific Mississippi mound sites along a 100 mile route on which we now know as the Natchez Trace, a paved highway of sorts running from Natchez MS to Nashville TN. I drove though several counties including Oktibbeha, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Noxubee county, all named after indigenous predecessors. Oktibbeha means “bloody water” harkening to a previous battle fought on the water banks of that land.
People have lived in what is now known as the state of Mississippi for the past 12,000 years, with earliest earthen mound construction beginning some 2,100 years ago. The purposes and shapes of mounds varied—perhaps burial or perhaps altar—depending on the culture building them. Imagine collective groups co-carrying baskets of dirt from dawn to dusk, tamping it down in unison with their feet, to create an impressive monolithic mound for shared ceremonial use.
Before the US government constructed a paved trace fluidly following the original trails, this robust wilderness road system was used for thousands of years in an array of capacities. From ancient trade routes, to the atrocious Trail of Tears, to frontiersman postal carriers, to: witches, ghosts, robbers, murderers, et al. This land carries a myriad of stories of safe passage and suffering.