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[photo] Nanih Waiya, sacred mound of the Choctaws, c1914
Photograph by B. N. Powell, Columbus, Mississippi. Courtesy Ken Carleton, Tribal Archeologist, Mississippi Band of Choctaw.

This large rectangular platform mound, measuring 25 feet high, 218 feet long, and 140 feet wide, is maintained in a state park. Nanih Waiya is a Choctaw Indian name meaning "leaning hill." A small burial mound, now nearly leveled by plowing, is located outside the park boundaries several hundred yards away. A long, raised embankment once enclosed the site. Most of this earthen enclosure has been destroyed by cultivation, but a short segment remains along the edge of a swamp to the northwest of the large mound.

The period of construction of Nanih Waiya Mound is uncertain. Although its rectangular, flat-topped form is typical of Mississippian period mounds (1000 to1600 A.D.), pottery sherds found on the surface of the adjacent habitation area suggest a possible Middle Woodland time range (100 B.C. to 400 A.D.). Until archeological investigations are undertaken, however, the mound's actual age will remain unknown.

Although built by American Indians, by the 18th century Nanih Waiya had come to be venerated by the Choctaw tribe. The site plays a central role in the tribe's origin legends. In one version, the mound gave birth to the tribe--the people emerged from the underworld here and rested on the mound's slopes to dry before populating the surrounding region.

Nanih Waiya Mound and Village is located northeast of Philadelphia, Mississippi. Drive about 15 miles on State Hwy 21, turn left at the Nanih Waiya sign on State Highway 393 and continue north three miles to the mound. The mound and cave are no longer open to the public. Call the Missisippi Nanih Waiya Wildlife Management Area 662-724-2770 for further information.

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