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November is Native American Heritage Month, recognizing the Native American Indians that have made a unique contribution to the nation. Ohio was once home to many tribes, including the Adena people and Lenape or Mohican tribes that inhabited Central Ohio. Metro Parks contain many signs of the first people who lived here, and are great places to learn and see their history.
Highbanks Metro Park contains earthworks from the Adena culture that inhabited central Ohio. A burial mound, along the Coyote Run Trail, was built more than 2,000 years ago. An amateur excavation in 1958 unearthed a pendant and single burial that date back to the Adena culture, Ohio’s earliest mound builders. Modern cultivation eroded the mound from an original height of 6 to 7 feet to only 3 feet. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it was reconstructed by the Metro Parks in 1989.
Along the Overlook Trail at Highbanks, another earthwork takes form in a C-shaped embankment that encloses a tall bluff overlooking the Olentangy River. It is about 3-feet high and has three openings that most likely served as gates. The embankment may have served as a defensive wall for the Adena people.
Chestnut Ridge Metro Park also contains an Adena mound that has been registered on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historical Places. Just west of Northern Amanda Road, Old Maid’s Orchard Mound is believed to have originated with the Adena people. It is about 8-feet high, with a diameter of around 75 feet.
At Inniswood Metro Gardens, the Story Maze tells a Native American myth – Earth on Turtle’s Back. Carved into the maze’s paving stones, Earth on Turtle’s Back is a creation story of the Lenape and Iroquois people. The storied path leads to the Circle Maze, where the legend is depicted by a 9-foot painted wooden statue of Sky Woman standing on Turtle’s Back.
Even Written Rock at Clear Creek is believed to have once been a polishing site used by Native Americans to sharpen axes or other tools, and many of the rivers in Central Ohio, including the Olentangy, Scioto and Darby got their names from Native American language.