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Historical Footprints

On Sunday, June 21, 2009, the first Summer Solstice Ceremony was held atop the Ceremonial Indian Mound in Florence, AL. It was probably the first in hundreds of years, since the American Southeastern Indians had lived in the area and before the long and horrible Trail of Tears. I was on my way back from Dallas, Texas and wasn’t able to be there. What I didn’t know at the time was the deplorable condition of the Mound and the total state of disrepair the museum was in. It was August before I made a trip to see for myself and take pictures. If there was ever a moment of passion for me, it was then. It was an angry passion to begin with that has steadily turned into a more calm passion but that has carried me over the past five years of dealing with politics and politicians.

After returning from the trip, I attended a mediation service at the C.O.R.E. Center. We talked about the condition of the Mound and what could and should be done. At that point I still had not seen the Mound or what it looked like. Because I live in Florence, it was determined I should go to the City Council meeting to discuss the situation. I should point out it was NOT a democratic vote, but a situation where I opened my mouth and the next thing I knew, I (was) volunteered.

The drive to the Mound area is not a pretty one. The property, deeded to the City of Florence in 1947 to be preserved and protected, is surrounded by industry and business. As I walked to the seventy-two steps leading to the top of the Mound, it was plain to see the Mound had not been protected or preserved. The sides of the Mound were overgrown with weeds and Johnson grass. Briars were ready to attack those brave enough to venture off the concrete steps. As I reached the top and walked across the Mound on that hot August afternoon, I saw Pokeberry trees taller than my own 5’4” frame. There were weeds, Johnson grass and briars everywhere. Piles of old brush pushed to one side and never removed were a haven for snakes and critters. If I had a guess, there were probably a few snakes of the poisonous variety wondering what this human was doing in their territory. Well, I wondered a bit too but I was on a mission, the beginning of a passionate mission.

My camera ready, I snapped pictures from every angle, walking very carefully with a stick in one hand ready to do battle with any snake or critter that dared to cross my path. It didn’t take long to take twenty plus pictures, all of the while growing more angry. The Mound had been a place to bring school children on field trips, an important place in the early history of Alabama and Lauderdale County before either had a name. I furiously questioned, “How could anyone let this sacred place get in this condition?”

I was aware The City Council allowed five minutes from the floor at the end of the meetings. My first draft was fifteen minutes or longer. Finally I had it down to the five minutes if I read fast. I went that Tuesday night with my statement and pictures. Afterward I asked that the pictures and statement be listed in the minutes of the meeting for the record.

Photo Credit: Matt McKean

A display sign shows its age and moisture marks inside the Indian Mound Museum (Photo Credit: Matt) McKean

The Council Member for the district of the Mound requested the pictures and thanked me for coming. I thought that would be the end of it. To my surprise, on Wednesday morning early, city crews were there to begin the clean up. Work continued on Thursday and Friday of that week with a new look coming to the Mound.

Issues continue to surface and again and again I go back to ask questions and let them know we, the Friends of the Mound, have not gone away and won’t.

If you see a need in your town, historical or community oriented; that needs some passion and pizzazz it in, get busy. If you don’t, who will? I’m glad I did.

Located near the banks of the Tennessee River, the Florence Indian Mound is the Tennessee Valley’s largest domiciliary mound.  It is a 42 foot high quadrilateral mound with a summit measuring 145 x 94 feet.  Early settlers in the region found steps on the east side and evidence that the mound had been enclosed by a semi-circular earthen wall. Visit Indian Mound and Museum in Florence AL to experience the historical footprints.

Friends of the Mound meet quarterly on Sundays at the C.O.R.E Center, Florence AL.  The  non-profit group’s mission is dedicated to preserving and protecting the 12,000 plus years old Indian Mound in Florence, Alabama. I have the privilege of serving as President for this group.  For more information about this group feel free to get in touch with me.

The first image is an artist’s concept of the Indian Mound in Florence, AL in prehistoric times. Courtesy: Indian Mound Museum, By: Dorothy McDonald.

– Barbara Tubbs Hill / / (256) 710-9713

Writer, counselor, perennial student and seeker of truth and spirit is an apt description for Barbara. Currently, Barbara is working on her first novel with two more planned for the future. Her first book, “Let’s Talk, What You Don’t Know About Credit Can Hurt You,” was written after fifteen years in a career than spanned collections, credit and mortgage lending. Barbara is glad to have been a part of getting the Indian Mound in Florence listed on the Alabama State Historical Register and soon the National Historical Registry. She lives in Florence AL with her husband Johnnie and two precious rescue dogs; Snookies and Daisy.

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