I spent my morning taking photos for my newspaper at Poverty Point World Heritage Site outside of Epps, LA.  It’s a 3,500-year-old native American mound site with some pretty cool history. It’s also got a really nice 2.7 mile hiking/running trail.

The top photo shows a park ranger giving a demonstration of how the Indians cooked in fire pits.

The second is National Parks Director John Jarvis, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne unveiling the plaque officially naming the mounds as a World Historic Site.

The third pic is my wife, Sandy, and some of her students from Family Community Christian School and the bottom photo is just folks eating fried catfish because, it’s Louisiana and we do that. A lot. For no real reason.

Poverty Point is the kind of place that most people don’t know exists, but if you’re ever in northeast Louisiana and you’re looking for a place to run, check it out.

More information about what was going on at the site this morning:

Today Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu unveiled the Poverty Point World Heritage Site marker celebrating its June 22 inscription to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage List. Also part of the ceremony were National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis; representatives from the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development and Office of State Parks; the U.S. Department of State; and UNESCO. Lt. Governor Dardenne also announced that the site is renamed Poverty Point World Heritage Site.

“We feel the UNESCO designation warranted a name change to set Poverty Point apart from the other state historic sites,” Lt. Governor Dardenne said. “This designation comes with giant economic potential, and working together the surrounding communities, we will do everything we can to make sure the site reaches its full impact.”

As part of the promotion surrounding World Heritage status, a new website aimed at tourists and first-time visitors planning their trips to Poverty Point will be launched next month. The website will include itineraries for exploring the area, nearby attractions and places to stay and eat. An updated welcome and informational video will debut replacing an outdated video at the site’s interpretive center theater. The video tells the story of Poverty Point and its inhabitants from a historical and cultural perspective, and includes the UNESCO World Heritage story and sweeping aerial footage of the site.

From start to finish, the UNESCO World Heritage status took eight years to achieve with hard work from many people at the state, federal and international level. During the ceremony Lt. Governor Dardenne recognized the World Heritage List team and gave special recognition to site archaeologist Diana Greenlee and archaeologist Nancy Hawkins for their work writing, editing and coordinating the World Heritage application. Lt. Governor Dardenne also acknowledged Poverty Point’s champion at the Congressional level, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who led a multiyear fight clearing federal hurdles to make way for Poverty Point’s World Heritage inscription.

“More than 3,000 years ago, Poverty Point was an economic engine for this region, and it will be again as a World Heritage Site. In the past, it brought goods and materials to be traded, today it will bring tourists and jobs to grow and expand the middle class,” Sen. Landrieu said. “The process to secure this status for Poverty Point has truly been a team effort. Without the work of Lt. Gov. Dardenne and his staff, State Senator Francis Thompson, and the staff and high-ranking officials of the Departments of State and Interior who have spent countless hours on this nomination, we would not be here today. I appreciate that the World Heritage Committee gave Poverty Point this recognition and confirmed what we in Louisiana have known for many years: Poverty Point is a true cultural landmark and it deserves this recognition”

Poverty Point is the 22nd World Heritage Site in the U.S. and joins the ranks of others worldwide including the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Poverty Point was the U.S. Department of the Interior’s lone nomination for World Heritage status this year—adding to the site’s accolades as a National Historic Landmark, National Monument and Smithsonian Affiliate. The 3,400-year-old site is considered one of the most culturally significant American Indian sites in the U.S. Programs and tours are offered daily and show visitors how life might have been for the prehistoric inhabitants of the area.

Poverty Point is the largest, most complex U.S. archaeological site of its age, and its size went unmatched for at least 2,000 years. Its design is unlike any other site in the world—a massive earthen complex with six mounds; six concentric, C-shaped ridges; and a large, flat plaza. Archaeologists believe the inhabitants moved 25-million cubic feet of dirt to build the earthworks. In addition to its impressive size and design, a widespread trade network also existed at the site with artifacts discovered from as far away as present-day Iowa.

The site is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $4 and provides access to the site’s museum, video and tram tour. Children under 12 and senior citizens are admitted free. Poverty Point is located in West Carroll Parish, east of Monroe, on La. Hwy. 577. For more information, visit PovertyPoint.us or call 888.926.5492.

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