Welcome to Hale County
Located in the west-central part of the state in Alabama’s Black Belt, the area that now constitutes Hale County was home to three Alabama governors: Israel Pickens, John Gayle, and Thomas Seay. Hale County’s Moundville Archaeological Park includes a number of Mississippian-era mounds built by Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago. The town of Greensboro claims the title of Alabama’s Catfish Capital and was the birthplace of the Hale County Civic Improvement League, one of the nation’s first civil-rights associations. The county is governed by a representative five-member commission and includes four incorporated communities.
Moundville Archaeological Park
I do not think in the Southern States there is a group of Mounds to compare to Moundville, in the arrangement and state of preservation of the mounds (Clarence B. Moore, amateur archaeologist, 1910).
Spanning more than 300 acres, Moundville Archaeological Park preserves the largest indigenous mound complex in the Southeast and the remains of a civilization that dominated most of present-day Alabama between AD 1120 and AD 1650. Twenty-nine mounds are arranged around an enormous rectilinear plaza reflecting the sociopolitical composition of the Native American society that occupied the site for over 500 years. Aside from its highly visible earthen monuments, the site also contains numerous archaeological deposits that attest to the rich ceremonial, social, and political lives of the city’s inhabitants. The remains of houses, ceremonial and civic buildings, heaps of accumulated trash, a mile-long bastioned palisade, leveled plazas, and the footprints of still other mounds are present within the Park. Nestled in a fertile river valley, Moundville was the ideal location for the seat of one of North America’s preeminent Pre-Columbian cultures.
For nearly 200 years, Moundville and its surrounding population of 5,000 was unmatched in size by any other North American indigenous settlement. Minor centers within its direct sphere of influence appear to have benefitted by association with powerful Moundville elites, but remained small in scale. Larger, distant centers also cultivated relationships as is evidenced by the proliferation of art objects originating at Moundville and distributed to contemporary sites across the Southeastern United States.
Moundville’s skilled craftspeople produced religious and political objects according to a well-defined artistic system and with unparalleled technical skill. Representational art in the Hemphill style depicts contemporary practices as well as a pantheon of supernatural creatures, many of which remained prominent in Native American ideology well into the historic period.
This site is very important to numerous Southeastern indigenous tribes who assert an ancestral connection with those who built and occupied Alabama’s ancient mounds. The earthwork landscapes and the objects and information recovered from them reveal a rich cultural tradition that still thrives today among these tribes. Our indigenous mound sites represent a heritage for all Alabamians to cherish, and it is important that we protect and preserve them for future generations.