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28 June 2008
Group mulls future of ancient mound site in Ohio

Ohio Historical Society officials are considering the possible transfer of a 2,000-year-old American Indian earthworks site in central Ohio to the National Park Service because more money is needed to maintain and manage the site. The society's Board of Trustees will meet to decide whether to authorize a study by the National Park Service on the benefits and costs involved in transferring ownership of the Newark Earthworks.
     The Columbus-based society owns the site that includes the Great Circle Earthworks, the Octagon Earthworks and the Wright Earthworks. The three major segments are the only preserved parts of the earthworks that once covered more than four square miles. "The society does not currently have the resources to maintain and manage the site as it should," Executive Director William K. Laidlaw Jr. said in a statement. "With the earthworks being considered for World Heritage status, the need for improved access will increase."
     The Newark Earthworks, built by prehistoric Hopewell people between 100 BCE and 500 CE, are believed to have been used for religious, ceremonial and social purposes. The site is a National Historic Landmark. A transfer would have to be approved by the society, the National Park Service, the Legislature and Congress. A group of community leaders, American Indians and archaeologists recommended the action to ensure better maintenance and public access to the site. While the Ohio Historical Society has managed the earthworks since 1933-34, a country club has a long-term lease on the Octagon Mound part, limiting public access. Even if the society could buy out the lease, there is not enough money currently to manage and maintain the site properly, said George Kane, director of facilities management for the society.

Source: Ohio.com (24 June 2008)

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