“…those known as the Hopewell…”

Our weekly Peace Candle lighting includes acknowledgement of “those known as the Hopewell” among the Indigenous peoples who have “lived and labored, fought and loved” on this land.  Yesterday brought a major global acknowledgement.  UNESCO has declared Ohio’s Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, eight sites in all, a World Heritage site.  The designation recognizes “places deemed of universal importance and value to humankind.”      

An NPR article highlights that the walls of one site alone, Fort Ancient, in southwest Ohio, needed about 125 million basket loads of soil at 30 pounds per basket.  These took a lot of work (with no evidence of forced labor), and a lot of time, to build.  The earthworks were for ceremonial rather than military purposes.  Bill Kennedy, manager and archeologist for the site, refers to these creations as part of “a new religious movement.”

The best estimates for when this multi-generational religious movement began are around 2000 years ago. So the same time Jesus walked among the villages of Galilee, the same time as the writing of the New Testament and the growth of the early church, the people living where we now live were rethinking their own sacred gatherings and building open air cathedrals. 

I like the thought of the world coming to visit Ohio to be in awe of those who cooperatively moved earth in such a way to better honor the earth.  I like the thought of these two religious movements that began 2000 years ago shaping our practices today as we pray and act for, in the words of the Peace Candle, “peace within us, among us, to the ends of the earth.”


Photo from The Ohio History Connection