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MoundTrail-interior The Mississippi Department of Archives and History celebrated the grand opening of the Mississippi Mound Trail at Winterville Mounds on Monday, May 23. Stretching from Desoto County to Wilkinson County and following the Highway 61 corridor, the trail will highlight earthworks built at thirty-three sites. “We are excited to join with our partners in announcing the opening of the Mississippi Mound Trail,” said MDAH director Katie Blount. “The trail will allow travelers to encounter our extraordinary Native American heritage in new ways—and at new sites—all along the historic Highway 61 corridor where some of the largest and oldest American Indian mounds and mound groups in the nation are located.” Four sites—Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, Pocahontas Rest Area and Welcome Center, Winterville Mounds, and Emerald Mound on the Natchez Trace Parkway— are state or federally operated and open to the public. Visitors are welcome to walk among the mounds and learn more through interpretive signs and exhibits. All are free. Double-sided interpretive markers feature a site map on one side to orient the viewer to the mounds. The other side will provide information about each location, including dates ranges of mound construction, uses of the earthworks, and other insight into the lives of the mound builders. Each marker also displays a unique Quick Response (QR) code that will link visitors to the trail website for additional information. The Mississippi Mound Trail Markers are located in the right of way nearest the mounds. The Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have coordinated the placement and construction of pull-offs and directional signage for each marker along the driving trail. “We are proud to collaborate with Archives and History and Federal Highway to share this cultural heritage treasure with Mississippi’s traveling public,” said MDOT executive director Melinda McGrath. “The Mississippi Mound Trail is an example of the state’s interesting and unique history and will bring economic growth through this stunning outdoor tourist attraction in counties and communities along our western border." The Federal Highway Administration is glad to be a part of this project along with local and state agencies, Native American tribes, and private landowners,” said Andrew Hughes, Mississippi division administrator of Federal Highway Administration. “These mounds are a fine example of native engineering that has endured for thousands of years.” Some markers along the Mississippi Mound Trail are off the beaten path while others are easier to find. GPS coordinates listed in the trail brochure will enable drivers to find the exact locations of the markers. The website will provide a map and additional information about the history of each site. Many of the mound sites are on private property and are included in the trail through the goodwill of the current landowners. Those sites are not open to the public and visitors are asked to stay on the pull-offs for viewing. The Mississippi Mounds Trail is a joint project of MDAH, Mississippi Department of Transportation, Office of State Aid Road Construction, Federal Highway Administration, private landowners, respective county engineers and boards of supervisors, and local Native American tribes, including the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, the Chickasaw Nation, the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana.

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