Conducted from 7 to 9 p.m., the annual event — one of two set for April 12 — is expected to draw several hundred people. Regarded as the most intact Mississippian Culture site in the Southeast, the Etowah Indian Mounds — 813 Indian Mounds Road S.W., Cartersville — features six earthen mounds, a village area, a plaza, borrow pits and defensive ditch.
“We start [the guided tours] around 7 [p.m.] just before it gets dark, so that people [who are there early can] hopefully see the sunset,” said Keith Bailey, interpretive ranger for Etowah Indian Mounds. “... Everyone else will get to walk by the torches in the dark. So we’re basically trying to give them an idea of how big the site is and what it would have possibly looked like at nighttime, especially from the chief’s perspective on top. We line the outside perimeter and the plaza with lights — torches and tea lights — so that you can see how big it is in perspective of everything else around. We give them a tour and tell them about the site, how many people would have lived there, a little bit about their religious practices that we know from the artifacts that we found, some of the games that they would have played.
“... It is one of our biggest events, that and the hayrides in the fall. I think one of the reasons is it’s just been going on for so long. I think this is like the 13th year. Of course, it used to be in the fall time and we moved it to the spring, so that affected it a little bit because it’s not as dark. But I think it’s just something different and it’s at the right time of the year that everybody’s wanting to get [outside].”
Along with guided tours, the event also will feature storytelling by the firepit provided by Etowah Indian Mounds Clerk Gary Greene.
“[I will tell] two or three Creek tales,” Greene said. “You’re supposed to tell four tales if you start telling the stories, to keep with their tradition. I usually do that and then I talk to them about Mound C. I’ll be telling them about how it was excavated all the way down to the ground and how the two statues were found in there. I’ll be talking about how all the artifacts in the museum came out of Mound C and how [after it was] completely excavated ... they built it back.
“I am a professional storyteller. So I enjoy telling stories and sharing. ... I do a whole thing about how important it is to tell stories, especially family stories, and I give them my two cents on that because all it takes is for one generation not to tell family stories and their grandmother will be gone forever.”
The evening tours will follow the site’s Tools and Weapons program, which will feature demonstrations on how to make various items, such as a bow and arrow, spear and blowdart, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission will be $6 for adults, $4 for youth 6 to 17 and $2 for children 5 and younger.
For more information about the Etowah Indian Mounds, call 770-387-3747 or visit www.gastateparks.org/EtowahMounds.