The Pee Dee Indian chose the area over six hundred years ago, providing a place to discuss politics and perform religious ceremonies and rituals. Town Creek Indian Mound was a cultural center for South Appalachian Mississippian culture.
The most noteworthy Pee Dee celebration at the Mound was called the “busk”: houses and the grounds were refurbished, debts were repaid, and a purification ritual took place. This ceremony included the use of euphoric substances, bathing, fasting and eating corn to start a new year called, “poskito.” By the end of the ritual, embers from the fire were used to light the hearths in Pee Dee homes; it represented the tribe as “people of one fire.” In the eighteenth century, Europeans arrived at the site, but the Pee Dee Indians had vacated it and more than likely had started living among the Catawba.
Starting in the late 1800s, the site attracted treasure hunters, but in 1936, Joffre L. Coe, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, began official archeological digs. Stemming from Coe’s initiative, professional excavations at Town Creek began in 1937 and spanned fifty years. Archaeologists have discovered a burial and mortuary house in the middle of the plaza as well as evidence for five protective walls surrounding the site. It is estimated that 563 burials took place at the site with evidence of bone remains wrapped in deerskin placed in pottery urns. Landowner L.D. Frutchey set aside the site for scientific fieldwork in 1937 and the site became a North Carolina State Historic Site in 1955.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s the site underwent renovations in which the mound, burial house and stockade were restored. The earthen mound that is seen today is built over a rectangular earth lodge structure with the walls constructed by wooden posts set in holes.
Today, Town Creek Indian Mound has been used as venue for monthly astronomy events and the viewing of constellations, which are open to the public. The site includes a visitors center, two temples, burial house, stockade and mound.
“Town Creek Indian Mound.” William S. Powell, ed. Encyclopedia of North Carolina (University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC 2006).
. "Town Creek Indian Mound Overview." NC Historic Sites. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar 2012. <http://www.nchistoricsites.org/town/main.htm>.
. "North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources." North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar 2012. <http://news.ncdcr.gov/2011/01/26/2011-astronomy-season-begins-at-town-creek-indian-mound/>.
By Shane Williams, North Carolina History Project
See Also:Related Categories: Early America