Build­ing a legacy for Ge­or­gia

The Covington News - - Local news - Terri Kim­ble

On my trip to Ari­zona, I bought one of those lit­tle beaded neck­laces with a beaded doll like you find in Chero­kee, N.C.

I gave the “In­dian neck­lace” to my five-year-old cousin and was promptly in­formed that I can’t use that word.

I sug­gested “Na­tive Amer­i­can,” but that didn’t sound right to her, ei­ther, so for now we can’t call it any­thing.

It’s a good thing she’s a pil­grim in next week’s school pro­gram or else I sup­pose she’d be hav­ing an iden­tity cri­sis try­ing to re­mem­ber what she’s sup­posed to be called.

Years ago I won­dered if Rock Ea­gle 4H Cen­ter would have to drop the Na­tive Amer­i­can sum­mer camp theme with the trend to po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness.

Thank­fully, 4-H put to­gether a com­mit­tee in­clud­ing mem­bers of the South­east­ern tribes and was able to de­ter­mine that the theme it­self wasn’t of­fen­sive, but that some of the cul­ture and im­ages pre­sented could be adapted to be more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the South­east­ern tribes.

For­merly called chiefs and princesses, camp coun­selors in lead­er­ship are now mi­cos, and the out­fits were mod­i­fied to more ac­cu­rately rep­re­sent our own Na­tive Amer­i­can her­itage.

I’m glad the theme sur­vived be­cause it serves an im­por­tant pur­pose in re­mind­ing 4-H’ers that we weren’t the first peo­ple here.

My fam­ily has been in Newton County for about 200 years, but of course that’s noth­ing in the grand scheme of Ge­or­gia his­tory.

Each time I take 4-H’ers up the tower at the Rock Ea­gle to look down on the rock ef­figy, I won­der about the peo­ple who orig­i­nally built the mound.

No one knows for sure why, or even ex­actly when, it was built.

I can’t think of any­thing I’ve helped cre­ate that will still be around in hun­dreds or even thou­sands of years for peo­ple to puz­zle over, won­der­ing why we built it.

I’ve al­ways heard about a sec­ond ef­figy in Put­nam County sim­i­lar to the Rock Ea­gle, but wasn’t aware that you could visit it.

Last Fri­day the rib­bon was cut on the view­ing tower and in­ter­pre­tive cen­ter at the Rock Hawk ef­figy, just 20 miles past Rock Ea­gle 4-H Cen­ter.

To reach the park, fol­low U.S. High­way 441 past Rock Ea­gle, then turn left onto Jef­fer­son Av­enue into down­town Ea­ton­ton.

As you pass through the square, turn left onto Ge­or­gia High­way 16 and fol­low it for about 13 miles.

Rock Hawk Park is on the left, and in­cludes some nice hik­ing and bird­ing trails as well as the his­tor­i­cal ex­hibits.

Each speaker at the rib­bon cut­ting re­ferred to the long his­tory of the ef­figy, and cited var­i­ous es­ti­mates given by ar­chae­ol­o­gists that var­ied from as lit­tle as 500 years to as much as a few thou­sand years.

In the end, though, each seemed to agree that it re­ally didn’t mat­ter how long ago the ef­figy was built by Na­tive Amer­i­can tribes — the end re­sult is the same.

To­day we can look at the mound and re­mem­ber that we’re not the first ones here, and we won’t be the last ones here.

For those of us who have seen the Rock Ea­gle, the Rock Hawk comes as a lit­tle bit of a sur­prise.

There’s no care­fully re­stored ef­figy here — it clearly shows the rav­ages of time and peo­ple.

The veg­e­ta­tion has been cut back bet­ter to see the ef­figy, but from old sketches and sur­veys of the site it is clear that over time the orig­i­nal shape has been some­what lost.

Ditches from ar­chae­o­log­i­cal stud­ies of the mound are also still ev­i­dent.

Rather than re­store the ef­figy to what we be­lieve it looked like, how­ever, it is be­ing pre­served as it cur­rently ex­ists, fol­low­ing to­day’s his­tor­i­cal preser­va­tion prac­tices.

It’s al­most more in­ter­est­ing, re­ally, to see it and try to imag­ine it as it was be­ing con­structed so long ago.

From my van­tage point atop the tower, it makes me think about how hard it must have been to con­struct such an ef­figy.

Per­haps that’s ex­actly what we’re do­ing in Ge­or­gia 4-H right now.

In­stead of build­ing our last­ing legacy in rock, painstak­ingly dragged, rolled, or lifted into a mean­ing­ful shape — we’re in­vest­ing our time and tal­ents to build our legacy for Ge­or­gia one 4-H’er at a time.

Terri Kim­ble is the 4-H Ed­u­ca­tor for Newton County 4-H. She can be reached at (770) 784-2010.

Sub­mit­ted pho­tos/The Cov­ing­ton News

The new view: Terri Kim­ble, above, at Rock Hawk Park in Put­nam County for the rib­bon cut­ting on the new view­ing tower and in­ter­pre­tive cen­ter. (Left) The Rock Hawk ef­figy in Put­nam County as ob­served from the new view­ing tower.

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