The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources has approved a measure that would expand the size of the Ocmulgee National Monument and re-classify it as a national park.
Congress authorized Ocmulgee National Monument in 1934 to protect land where Native Americans built a complex of mounds. The new proposal would expand its size from roughly 702 acres to more than 2,800 acres.
“Passage of our bill in the House Natural Resources Committee is an important step, bringing us closer to strengthening the current Ocmulgee National Monument; bolstering the economy and cultural life of Georgia; and realizing a lasting memorial, enduring for generations,” U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., said in a news release.
Humans have occupied the area for more than 17,000 years, according to the National Park Service. Mound builders from the Mississippian arrived in the area circa 900 and started building ceremonial mounds for their elite.
“Ensuring that the Ocmulgee Mounds receive the National Park status and historical recognition they deserve will have a lasting positive economic and cultural impact in Middle Georgia,” U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., said in a news release.
The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes approved the proposal in October 2014. While Georgia is home to a number of national sites and monuments, if approved, Ocmulgee would be the state’s first national park.