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    Georgia Arabia Mountain’s Indigenous, Native American ties

    The mountain has a storied history with Indigenous people who first set roots in the South.

    DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Archaeologists say it has taken nearly 400 million years for Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area to form. The sprawling natural space is where people take in gorgeous sights and unknowingly walk on sacred land.

    It lies just east of Atlanta along Interstate 20 in DeKalb County, known as a scenic place to hike. The mountain has a storied history where Indigenous people first set roots in the South.

    “There’s another mindset of tradition people who see it as kind of the Holy Land,” Tom Blue Wolf with the Muscogee Nation said. “Because it’s an extraordinary structure, you know, coming out of the earth, thousands of acres of these outcroppings, that once upon a time were a place where we would go do vision quests, where we would go dream, where we would go heal, where we would do ceremonies. And so, it was considered very sacred.”

    Two granite outcrops and biomes unique to the nation dominate Arabia Mountain. It is believed that natural resources of the heritage area have supported people for around 12,000 years. It also may have served “as a buffer between the Creek and Cherokee nations,” according to early settlement information on the park’s website.

    Blue Wolf explained the mountain was a ceremonial site where people would go to pray, likening it to a church. He calls what’s known as the heritage area a symbol of healing or what the Indigenous knew as “a little piece of heaven” amid an apothecary for the region.

    “So even today, of the some 2,000 some odd herbs used by the Indigenous people, 1,800 of them grow here (in Georgia),” he explained.

    He added people would come to the mounds, taking crops and seeds to plant wherever they came from for trading. Some people would even attempt to heal spiritually or physically in the area.

    “Mount Arabia was part of that healing of the southeastern United Sates,” he said.

    The spirit of healing can be seen and felt in Georgia today, Blue Wolf said.

    “I mean, Coca-Cola, the first herbal tonic was created here in Atlanta. We’ve got the Heart and Lung Association, the American Cancer Society; one of the outcrops of the CDC,” he said. “So that healing energy of this area is still very present – the Martin Luther King Center, the Jimmy Carter Center. So much biological and spiritual healing goes on here. Mount Arabia is part of that tradition.”

    As people walk the trails, he hopes they can take a moment to embrace its healing nature. Blue Wolf also challenged people to flip their perspective.

    “Indigenous thinking: you don’t compete, you collaborate,” Blue Wolf explained. “They saw it as something to care for.”

    He wants visitors to see it the same way too and respect the site for all that it has to offer.

    To learn more about Arabia’s Mountain history and other sites, click here.


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