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Visitor Center

Town Creek Indian Mound

Town Creek 2nd Saturdays Program Highlights Art of Weaving

 

MOUNT GILEAD, N.C. -- In a free program, Town Creek Indian Mound will highlight the art of weaving on Saturday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources 2nd Saturdays series.  American Indians were weavers of baskets, mats, fabric and nets, and even their homes were woven together. Participating local artisans will include broom makers, basket weavers and jewelry makers.

 

The 2nd Saturdays program has more than 100 free events that bring together artists, history and authentic North Carolina culture.  The fun will take place at all 37 of the Department of Cultural Resources’ museums and Historic Sites on June 12, July 10 and Aug. 14.

 

One of the vendors scheduled to participate at Town Creek June 12 enjoys painting reproduction quilt patterns, which he then places on the side of old barns in the area.  Another artist will create handmade paper out of recycled materials and plant fibers; this paper can be used as stationery or art.  Items created by the artists will be available for purchase at their booths.

 

Activities will also be available to the public for free.  Participants can view a hands-on demonstration of how American Indians used wattle to make the walls of the huts.  Children will enjoy learning cordage (the art of making string or rope) and creating their own bracelets; and staff will make pine needle baskets in the East Lodge.

           

For more than a thousand years, American Indians farmed lands later known as North Carolina. Around A.D. 1000, a new cultural tradition arrived in the Pee Dee River Valley.  Throughout Georgia, South Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and western and southern Piedmont North Carolina, the Mississippian tradition spawned complex societies. Inhabitants built earthen mounds for their leaders, engaged in widespread trade, supported craftspeople and celebrated a new form of religion.

           

In 1937, excavations began at Town Creek Indian Mound.  Key features of the site were reconstructed, including the mound, two temple structures, a burial hut and surrounding stockade.  Archaeologists’ excavations revealed that the mound at Town Creek was constructed over an early rectangular structure known as an "earth lodge." 

           

The mission of Town Creek Indian Mound is to interpret the history of the American Indians who once lived here.  The visitor center features interpretive exhibits, as well as audiovisual displays.  A national historic landmark, Town Creek Indian Mound State Historic Site is North Carolina’s only state historic site dedicated to American Indian heritage.  Tour groups are welcome.  The site is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.  It is closed to the public on Mondays and most major holidays.

 

The historic site is located on Town Creek Mound Road approximately five miles east of Mt. Gilead, in southern Montgomery County between NC 73 and NC 731.  For more information on Town Creek, visit www.towncreek.nchistoricsites.org/ or call (910) 439-6802. 

 

Administered by the Division of State Historic Sites, Town Creek Indian Mound is part of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, the state agency with the mission to enrich lives and communities, and the vision to harness the state’s cultural resources to build North Carolina’s social, cultural and economic future. Information on Cultural Resources is available 24/7 at www.ncculture.com.

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Town Creek Indian Mound
An American Indian Legacy

 

 Town Creek

 

Archaeology, Protohistory, and Ceremony in the Pee Dee River Valley . . .

For more than a thousand years, Indians lived an agricultural life on the lands that became known as North Carolina. About the 11th century A.D., a new cultural tradition emerged in the Pee Dee River Valley. That new culture, called "Pee Dee" by archaeologists, was part of a widespread tradition known as "South Appalachian Mississippian." Throughout Georgia, South Carolina, eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and the southern North Carolina Piedmont, the new culture gave rise to complex societies. These inhabitants built earthen mounds for their spiritual and political leaders, engaged in widespread trade, supported craft specialists, and celebrated a new kind of religion.

The Ceremonial Center
Pee Dee culture represents a regional expression of South Appalachian Mississippian culture that interacted and evolved with other centers located throughout the Southeast. Indians of the Pee Dee culture established a political and ceremonial center on a low bluff overlooking the confluence of Town Creek and Little River. In addition to being a major habitation spot, the Town Creek site served as a place for discussion of matters important to the collective clans of the tribe. In this way, it was the setting for significant religious ceremonies and feasts, which often lasted several days. There many socially high-ranking members of the tribe lived, died, and were buried.

 The "busk" was the most important ceremony of Indians living in the South Appalachian Mississippian sphere. During the busk, houses were cleaned and the temple and grounds were repaired. All fires were extinguished and all debts and grievances were resolved. From outlying villages people came and gathered at the ceremonial center for rituals of purification: ceremonial bathing, fasting, scratching the body with garfish teeth, and taking cathartic medicines. Everyone prepared to begin the new year with the eating of new corn at the conclusion of the busk, also known as "poskito." At the close of the busk visitors returned to their villages, carrying with them embers from the sacred fire with which to relight the hearths in their own homes. Sharing the fire symbolized unity among the Pee Dee, making them "people of one fire."

Uncovering the Town Creek Site
Excavations began at Town Creek in 1937 and continued for fifty years. Today excavations continue on a limited basis. The property became a state historic site in 1955. During the 1950s and 1960s key features of the site were reconstructed, including the mound, two temple structures, the burial house, and the surrounding stockade. Today the Town Creek site remains the only state historic site in North Carolina dedicated to American Indian heritage.

 Excavations revealed that the mound at Town Creek was constructed over an early rectangular structure known as an "earth lodge." The walls of the structure were formed by individual posts set in holes. Earth was then piled in an embankment around the walls and over the roof to create the lodge. Eventually this structure collapsed. Its remains and the surrounding area were covered, creating a low earthen mound that served as a platform upon which a temple was erected. This structure was later destroyed by fire. A second structure was built atop the new mound. An east-facing ramp provided access from the plaza to the top of the mound.

Public meetings and ceremonial activities took place in the large plaza or open area. Several structures, including some that served as burial or mortuary houses, were built around the edge of the plaza. The burial house was a special building containing the graves of people who probably belonged to the same clan. The mound, plaza, mortuary, and habitation areas were enclosed by a stockade made of closely set posts plastered with a mixture of clay and straw called daub. Archaeological investigations further revealed two guard towers, or gates—one each on the north and south edges of the stockade. Evidence of five periods of stockade building was found.

A visit to Town Creek Indian Mound offers a glimpse of pre-Columbian life in Piedmont North Carolina. The visitor center contains interpretive exhibits, as well as audiovisual programs that bring alive a rich cultural heritage from the buried past. Self-guided tours of the rebuilt structures and mound and other group activities are available.

 


Town Creek is a National Historic Landmark

 

Town Creek Indian Mound
509 Town Creek Mound Rd.
Mt. Gilead, NC 27306
Phone: (910) 439-6802
Fax: (910) 439-6441


http://www.nchistoricsites.org/town/Main.htm