Now that the days of autumn are upon us, we begin to feel the ghostly pull of the Halloween Season. The days grow shorter, the nights grow longer and more mysterious with their bone creeping chill. The leaves grow crimson and then dark brown and drift silently to the trodden pathways that have been followed by man and beast for eons.
This is a time when childrens' fancies of the sweet loot of a Halloween Eve and the fear of what is awaiting them behind the next bush, gives them the thrill of the hunt as it did to their forefathers, who hunted the deep, dark wilds of the North American Continent.
One does not have to travel far to feel the sense of mystery of the ancient trails, for there are many that were here when the first European colonists set foot on this new world. One of these ancient pathways is the Natchez Trace Parkway, which we have been traveling for sometime now. As we continue our journey northward from milepost 78.3, we can close our eyes and feel the spirits of the Indians, frontiersmen, boatmen , robbers, gypsies and soothsayers walking along with us.
The Indians were the first group of humans to travel this pathway. They came out of what is now Mexico in search of new lands. They brought with them the bones of their ancestors, and buried them in ceremonial earthworks called mounds, that can still be found along the present day Natchez Trace Parkway.
We have already traveled past the Emerald Mound and the Mangum Mound, and are in awe of the beauty of the Ross Barnett Reservoir, whose waves lap against the shoreline for eight miles of our parkway journey. Then we are again pulled back in time as we approach the Boyd Site, where the Indians constructed six burial mounds during the late Woodland and early Mississippian periods (circa 800 to 1100 A.D. ).
The remains of 41 individuals were found in Mound 2, but there were relatively few accompanying artifacts. Different pottery types found in separate areas of this compound mound indicate that it was constructed in two phases: the first episode during the Late Woodland period and the second, after a considerable length of time, during the Mississippian period. where the mounds here were built between 750 to 1,250 years ago.
Traveling one mile north, we reach the Upper Choctaw Boundary. This marked the area where The Choctaw Nation reluctantly gave to the United States an area amounting to some 5.5 million acres, about 1/3 of their land. Ten years later in 1830, the Choctaws were forced to give up all their lands. It is here that we can feel the sorrow of the Choctaw People even today, as some say, "Their spirits remain!"
Our day's journey will end here, as we listen to some of the same sounds that the Indians of long ago heard - the sounds of the creatures of the night. Somethings never change! Join us next time as we travel north on the Natchez Trace Parkway.
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