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3 June 2007
2,000-year-old site in Ohio to be auctioned off

Time is running out for one of ancient Native America's most untouched and unusual sacred places. On June 14, Spruce Hill Works, a vast 2,000-year-old hilltop earthworks enclosure in Ohio (USA), goes on the auction block.  A local coalition - including the Ross County Park District and two nonprofits, Arc of Appalachia Preserve System and Wilderness East - is trying to raise the $600,000 needed to save the 238-acre sacred site.
     At the moment, the coalition had come up with only $175,000. "We need a miracle," said Nancy Stranahan, co-director of the 2,500-acre Arc of Appalachia Preserve System. "If these groups don't succeed, Spruce Hill Works will likely be purchased by a timber company or a developer," said Marti Chaatsmith, Comanche/Choctaw and program coordinator of the Newark Earthworks Center, an Ohio State University program that promotes the study and protection of mounds, in particular a major complex in Newark. "Many earthworks have been plowed under or built on, so this one's near-pristine condition is important, especially to Native people. It's very hard to find ancient sacred places that haven't been tampered with or destroyed."
     All of these artificial hills and earthen-walled enclosures were constructed by indigenous people who arrived in the area in about 2,000 years ago and embarked upon a 500-year building campaign that left what appears to be a coordinated system of thousands of earthworks stretching from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. Some are massive, with several related installations, each of which encompasses scores of acres. The remains of ceremonial passageways, outlying shrines and habitations cover even more acreage, said archaeologists.  As is the case with Spruce Hill Works, surviving mounds are at risk. Development continues apace in Ohio, and if a sacred site does not lie on federal land, national preservation laws do not apply. Ohio's state preservation laws do not offer meaningful protection, according to Chaatsmith.
     For more information on Spruce Hill Works, visit highlandssanctuary.org.

Source: Indian Country Today (28 May 2007)

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