WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) (GA-08) released the following statement on the United States House of Representatives’ passage of bipartisan legislation to expand the current Ocmulgee National Monument from 702 acres to 2,800 acres. The measure also will change the name from “Ocmulgee National Monument” to “Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park” to increase name recognition, and authorize a resources study to include recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, and camping. The Ocmulgee legislation had been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in both the 114th Congress (2015-2016) and the 115th Congress (2017-2018) but had not been considered by the full United States Senate. The Ocmulgee legislation ultimately was included in S.47, the Natural Resources Management Act – a public lands package that was recently approved by the full U.S. Senate on February 12, 2019 by 92 to 8 vote. The House approved S.47 by a vote of 363 to 62 and it now goes the President’s desk for his signature.
“The Ocmulgee Mounds is a unique cultural and archaeological treasure for Georgia and the entire nation,” said Bishop. “There are few if any historic sites in the United States that have evidence of continuous human habitation from when the first nomadic people came to North America to hunt Ice Age mammals. It is one of the many qualities that makes the Ocmulgee National Monument so important. Expanding it will increase visitation, facilitate more learning opportunities and increase protection to this significant historical landmark.”
Due to its history and archaeological importance, expanding Ocmulgee National Monument to Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park will be a lasting memorial to how individuals relate to the land and other natural resources. This expansion and improvement will be a fitting tribute to the Native Americans who first came to this historic site during the Paleo-Indian period. The park also will generate tourist revenue for Macon, Georgia and the surrounding areas while educating visitors on the little known fact that different cultures have occupied this land for thousands of years. The mounds and earth-lodges that the Mississippians built to serve as formal council chambers when they arrived in Macon around 900 A.D. remain intact for all to see and appreciate.
Ocmulgee National Monument was originally authorized by Congress in 1934 to protect a fraction of the lands commonly known as the ‘Old Ocmulgee Fields,’ upon which certain Indian mounds of great historical importance are located. The legislation envisioned a large park of approximately 2,000 acres but local citizens could finance the acquisition of only 678 acres by the time it opened in 1936. Today, the Ocmulgee National Monument contains 702 acres. The role of the Ocmulgee National Monument is to “present a story of many stages of prehistoric cultural development, emphasizing the influences of agriculture, the Mound Builder period, and the relationship of these various cultures to each other and to life today.”
The Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park Boundary Revision Act enjoys support from the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee [Creek], and Seminole Nations), which represent over 500,000 Native Americans throughout the United States. The measure is also supported by Macon Mayor Robert Reichert, the Macon Chamber of Commerce, the Macon-Bibb Visitors Bureau, the Macon-Bibb Commission, the Macon-Bibb Economic Development Commission, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Southeast Tourism Society, and the Ocmulgee National Park & Preserve Initiative.