The Glass Mounds Native American Burial Site, located just off Highway 96 West, just north of the Westhaven Golf Club, has been officially placed in The National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service of The United States Department of The Interior. The distinction comes after years of preservation efforts from Westhaven and the community’s developer, Southern Land Company, along with the local Native community, The Alliance for Native American Indian Rights (ANAIR), The Tennessee Commission of Indian Affairs and the Tennessee Division of Archaeology (TDOA).
Southern Land Company acquired the property in 2001 with plans to build the Westhaven community and adjacent golf club. Immediately upon their announcement, Southern Land commissioned an archaeological survey of the entire project area, which recommended complete avoidance of the mounds. Their honored their commitment to protect and preserve the site, erecting construction barriers around each mound. All parties continued to work together over the years to secure this national recognition, with hopes to use the site as an education resource in the future.
Southern Land agreed to transfer a conservation easement on the Glass Mounds site to the Tennessee Ancient Sites Conservancy (TASC), which is a preservation-minded organization.
In 2012, TASC and Westhaven Golf Course began cleanup efforts at the site, and over a years’ time, removed most of the heavy brush and overgrowth from the area. Conversations continued, and TDOA shouldered the responsibility of the archaeological testing necessary to establish the site’s eligibility for the national recognition. Testing was completed in mid-2013; the first time the site had any excavation efforts since 1879.
The inclusion in The National Register of Historic Places serves as an amazing reward for the efforts of so many, including Westhaven community residents and golf club members who have supported the preservation efforts from the start.
“Almost 2000 years ago, the native peoples who lived along the Harpeth River in Williamson County created a sacred site, akin to what we would call a cathedral today,” said Dr. Kevin Smith, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Middle Tennessee State University. “It remains the only known major sacred site of its type from the Cumberland River drainage – and much have involved peoples from throughout the region. For modern peoples, this site is important not only as the remnants of an ancient shrine, but also as a site that was recognized nationally in the 1870’s by early archaeologists and antiquarians. While only these two remnants of this sacred complex survive for us to preserve, remember and honor today, they are an important reminder that our history as Tennesseans extends much deeper into the past than we might usually think.”More Franklin News