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Ancient Indian Mounds

In 1924, a Smithsonian archaeological team who were part of the pre-impoundment survey for Wilson Dam and Lake visited the Park site. During the Oakville site visit, Smithsonian archaeologists identified several mounds in the area. Most of the mounds were in process of being plowed down. According to the Smithsonian team, the Park site contained five Indian mounds. Two of the Indian mounds, the Oakville Ceremonial Mound and the Oakville Copena Mound are still basically intact.

The Oakville Ceremonial Woodland Mound is the largest Indian mound at Oakville covering some 1.5 acres of land and rising some 27 feet high. Believed to be a cultural center during the Woodland Period of North Alabama, the Oakville Ceremonial Woodland Mound is the largest Woodland Mound in the State of Alabama. The mound is estimated to have been built during the Woodland Period which covered a time span from 1,000 B.C. to 1,000 A.D. the mound was made by one basket full of dirt at a time. Stone spades were used to dig the soil from borrow pits and transfer by baskets to the mound site. The probable burrow pit was the depression that now contains Oakville Pond, the body of water northeast of the mound. The only known modifications to the Oakville Ceremonial Woodland Mound are from cutting off of a lower portion of the sides to provide more area farming. In addition, the top of the mound has been repeatedly plowed which has caused the top edge of the mound to get steeper and probably flatter. The steps on the side of the mound were placed in an old roadbed leading to the top of the mound. The Oakville area was considered a religious center and social complex of the Middle Woodland Indian people with outlying villages and farms. Additional Copena mounds located nearby supports the complex social center theory. The Copena people lived during this period from 1,000 B.C. to 1,000 A.D. Their society did not extend much farther south than the Warrior Mountains that can be seen to the south of the Ceremonial Mound or north to the Hogohogee (Tennessee) River or “River of Cherokees”.

The Oakville Copena Mound is a burial mound that covers about 0.25 acres and rises close to 20 feet high. The Copena people were noted for their use of copper and galena objects. They were great traders in conch shells, marble, greenstone, copper and galena objects. Their practice of mound burial along with other burial rituals distinguishes this group. The Copena Mound at Oakville is one of the largest burial mounds in North Alabama that is still in good condition.
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