I just happened upon an article in Archeology magazine about the Newark Earthworks, and that article includes information and pictures of the “Walk with the Ancients” that was done in 2009.
I was part of that walk.
If you are unaware, there are various Native American mounds and earthworks all throughout the eastern part of the United States. There are burial mounds, effigy mounds (mounds in the shapes of animals), and earthworks with other purposes. The Octagon in Newark, Ohio is, among other things, a lunar observatory that tracks the 18-year cycle of moonrises and moonsettings.
There is another large set of mounds down near Chillicothe, including another octagon that also tracks the lunar cycle. Furthermore, there is some evidence that there was a road between the two. And this is not just any road, but a road nearly 200 feet wide demarcated by mounds on either side.
Dr. Brad Lepper, Curator of Archeology for the Ohio Historical Society, originated the idea, and also the possibility that the road was used for pilgrimage. This led to the idea of recreating such a pilgrimage, and the new pilgrimage, The Walk with the Ancients, was sponsored by Newark Earthworks Center. The walk covered 70 miles over 7 days, traveling from the Hopewell Culture Historical Park in Chillicothe and ending at the Octagon in Newark.
Since I was part of the walk, I thought I’d show some of the pictures from the Archeology site.
As I said, we started in Chillicothe. From there we passed right by Great Seal State Park. Here is the group of us heading by Sugarloaf.
[All photos were taken by Tim Black, the official photographer of the walk. All captions on the photos are from the Archeology article.]
A major component of the walk was the participation and leadership of Native American communities on the area. Included were The Miami Valley Council for Native Americans and the Native American Indian Center Of Central Ohio.
Of course, the original Hopewell Road does not exist, so instead of taking a straight shot to Newark (as the original road did) we had to wend our way along existing roads. Here we are heading east, and you can see the hills of Great Seal to the south.
If you look carefully, you can see me in this picture. I’m the one with bare feet.
The spiritual leader for the walk was Gilly Running, a Lakota from the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. He led prayer sessions before each day of walking, and throughout the day.
I forget exactly what prompted me to do this.
We had a lot of community support along the way. Many churches opened their doors to feed us, and to give us a chance to take showers (yay!). This photo was taken after one of those dinners, and we were sharing some of what the walk was meaning to us.
Although we occasionally took advantage of the community for meals, we did stay in tents the whole trip. For that, we got a lot of help from the Fairfield County Historical Parks. We spent two nights camped at Rock Mill. (There were vans that transported us to the campsites after we walked a particular segment of the Walk.)
You can spot me on the left wearing my heather-colored beret.
Rock Mill is the place where the Hocking River got its name.
We also spent two nights camped at Smeck Farm. For some reason, a lot of people liked this photograph.
Actually, my only real decision was to make the Walk. Once I decided that, of course I would do it barefooted. They had just mowed the grass, and it was rainy, so you can see how all the grass stuck to my feet.
After we arrived at the Octagon there was a ceremony as we entered it. At this point we are entering one of the herraduras to form a large circle.
The next day there was also a wrap-up at the Newark Earthworks Center on the campus of The Ohio State University – Newark.
It was also an open house weekend at the Octagon, so my wife, my mother, and I also visited there and caught one of the presentations.
You can see the Columbus Dispatch story of the walk here.
The full set of pictures is here