Commemorations Planned for Ohio’s First World Heritage Site

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – The National Park Service and the Ohio History Connection are planning multiple events to commemorate the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks being inscribed as Ohio’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site on Sept. 19.

World Heritage inscription brings recognition to places of exceptional interest and value.

There are only about 1,000 World Heritage Sites around the globe, and the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are just the 25th World Heritage Listing in the U.S.

The inscription commemoration events for the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks will be held Oct. 7, 8, 14 and 15 at the sites in Licking, Ross and Warren counties:

  • Fort Ancient Earthworks & Nature Preserve, 6123 State Route 350 in Oregonia, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, and Sunday, Oct. 8. The main program will be at 11 a.m. Oct. 7 in the South Fort picnic shelter, and programs and tours will be scheduled throughout both days. The Ohio History Connection manages Fort Ancient.
  • Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, 16062 State Route 104 in Chillicothe, from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14. An official commemoration ceremony with several speakers, including Chief Glenna Wallace of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, begins at 1 p.m. For details, go to The National Park Service manages Hopewell Culture National Historical Park.
  • The Newark Earthworks, including the Great Circle Earthworks, 455 Hebron Road in Heath, and the Octagon Earthworks, 125 N. 33rd St. in Newark, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15. A commemoration program will begin at 1 p.m. at the Octagon, and regular tours and speakers will be scheduled at both sites throughout the day. The Ohio History Connection manages the Newark Earthworks.

Members of the media and general public are invited to attend any of these events. Admission and parking are free; signs directing visitors to designated parking lots and shuttles will be posted at each location, and more details about the events will be available at

Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks is the collective name for eight monumental sites built by Native Americans between 1,600 and 2,000 years ago in what is now the state of Ohio. Five of the earthworks sites are managed by the National Park Service, and three are managed by the Ohio History Connection.

The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks were nominated to the UNESCO World Heritage List in January 2022 by the U.S. Department of the Interior and were inscribed by the 21 countries on the World Heritage Committee on Sept. 19 during a meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

“Upon hearing that eight mounds in Ohio built by our Native American ancestors some 2,000 years ago have now been officially designated World Heritage sites, my immediate reaction was pure excitement and exhilaration,” said Chief Glenna Wallace of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. “Tears came to my eyes, and exhilaration turned into reflection, knowing that the world will now see and recognize the commitment, spirituality, imaginative artistry and knowledge of complex architecture to produce magnificent earthworks. Our ancestors were true geniuses.”

“We are deeply grateful to Chief Wallace for spearheading the Tribal involvement in this important work and relationship building,” said Chief Ben Barnes of the Shawnee Tribe. “My deepest desire is that our Shawnee people continue returning to the Great Circle and other earthworks of our ancestral homelands and honoring our ancestors who designed and built these engineering marvels.”

“World Heritage inscription highlights the accomplishments and connects the world to the genius of an ancient American Indian culture who connected land and sky through monumental earthwork complexes,” said Chris Alford, Superintendent of Hopewell Culture National Historical Park. “This inscription also highlights the dedication from Tribal Leaders, Ohio History Connection staff, academic professionals and the National Park Service personnel, who have worked countless hours to show the universal value of the Hopewell Culture and sites included as part of Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks.”

“We are so pleased the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks have been inscribed as Ohio’s first World Heritage Site,” said Megan Wood, Executive Director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection. “This inscription is a testament to the outstanding universal value of these masterpieces and more than a decade of work to prepare the UNESCO nomination by our various partners, including the National Park Service and federally recognized American Indian Tribes who trace their ancestry back to Ohio. We are beyond excited to share these sites with more and more Ohioans, Americans and world travelers.”

For more information about the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, go to

About the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks:

The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks are Ohio’s first World Heritage Site and the 25th World Heritage Listing in the United States. The Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks include eight locations in Ohio that are managed by the National Park Service and Ohio History Connection. They include the Mound City Group, Hopewell Mound Group, Seip Earthworks, High Bank Works and Hopeton Earthworks at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe; the Great Circle Earthworks and Octagon Earthworks in Heath and Newark; and the Fort Ancient Earthworks and Nature Preserve in Oregonia. These earthworks were built by Native Americans between 1,600 and 2,000 years ago. They are complex masterpieces of landscape architecture and are exceptional among ancient monuments worldwide in their enormous scale, geometric precision and astronomical alignments.


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