Native Village 
Youth and Education News

November, 2012

Advocates push to list Louisiana's Poverty Point as World Heritage Site
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Louisiana:  "It was the New York of its time."

So says archaeologist Fran Hamilton about the once teeming community at Poverty Point. She believes the United Nations should designate Poverty Point as a UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] Heritage Site.   

"This is a big project. It should be listed. But its listing will also put it in good company with Stonehenge, the Great Wall, the pyramids and bring in international tourists."

One of the oldest communities in the United States, Poverty Point was in its heyday in 1700 B.C.  Native Americans lived there as hunters and gatherers more than 500 years before the Trojan War, 300 years before King Tut became pharaoh, and about the same time that Hebrews followed Abraham's great-grandson into Egypt.

After UNESCO experts study and verify the information, the Poverty Point site will be submitted to UNESCO for voting. If all goes according to plan, it could become a UNESCO Heritage Site by June 2014.

Poverty Point was rediscovered in the 1950s when
archaeologist James Ford noticed earthworks in an aerial photo. The photo showed a plaza, several mounds, distinct ridges and a road.

So far, archaeologists have only excavated about 2% of the Poverty Point site. They've learned it was a major hub for Native Americans and the area was incredibly rich in wildlife, fish, nuts and other foods.

What they don't know is exactly who lived there, what is was called, what was traded and why it was built in the swamp. The soil is very acidic,  so not a single human bone has been found. Even without this information, Native Americans in and around Louisiana believe they have a deep connection to these natives.

"Most ... refer to those Native Americans who would have lived at Poverty Point as their ancestors," Hamilton said.


UNESCO Heritage Sites

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