Initiative aims to insert ‘mounds’ in Ocmulgee park's name

There’s a funny little thing about the Ocmulgee Indian mounds in Macon: They’re not actually called that.

The park is called the “Ocmulgee National Monument,” a name that causes confusion given the local tendency to simply call the age-old mounds and the surrounding national monument “the Indian mounds.”

Several local officials are pushing to formally change the park’s name to include the word “mounds,” and Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chip Cherry visited Washington, D.C., on Thursday to testify on the matter before a congressional committee.

Cherry and U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall both said the change should easily be approved, though it may take some time to get the signs changed.

“(Committee members) didn’t ask us any questions, so I figured it must have been a no-brainer,” Cherry said.

Ocmulgee Superintendent Jim David thinks so. He said he often meets people who have stopped somewhere in Macon for directions to the “Ocmulgee National Monument” only to hear “I’ve never heard of that.”

“A few months ago, I had a delivery guy (who was lost) call me,” David said. “I said, ‘We’re the Indian mounds.’ He said, ‘OK, that’s right down the road.’ ... Everybody in town knows us as the Indian mounds.”

The proposal has to work its way through Congress, probably as a small part of a much larger bill full of non-controversial items, Marshall said.

It also would have to be signed by the president. But there hasn’t been any opposition, Marshall said, and the bill should head to the president’s desk by the end of this year or early next year.

The new name would be the “Ocmulgee Mounds National Monument.”

Meanwhile, there is still a push to upgrade and expand the monument into a full-blown national park. Cherry said supporters are trying to get a grant now to fund a study on the change, which might help bolster the idea among the powers that be at the National Park Service.

To contact writer Travis Fain, call 744-4213.