Louisiana is an extraordinary place, and one of its many outstanding attributes can be found at a rural West Carroll Parish site called Poverty Point. Haven’t heard of it? Just you wait.
On June 22, Poverty Point was inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage List―an honor reserved for the most exceptional natural and cultural properties on the globe. In the process, it became the list’s 1,001st entry, as well as the 22nd U.S. site and the first in Louisiana to receive such a distinction. It joins places such as the Great Wall of China, the Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty. To pay tribute, Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne hosted the official Poverty Point World Heritage Site Inscription Ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 11, with hundreds in attendance.
Wondering what’s so special about Poverty Point? Its monumental earthworks, including large earthen mounds and ridges of a unique design and scale, are the remnants of a major settlement of Native American hunters and gatherers. Constructed at least 3,000 years ago and spanning hundreds of acres, it was the largest and most sophisticated Native American site in existence at the time. You might say it was the New York City of its day. It’s estimated that members of the community carried more than 50 million cubic feet of dirt to build the earthworks―that’s about 100 million basketloads―making it the largest complex of mounds by volume on the continent for 2,000 years. Poverty Point is utterly distinctive, and the global community’s recognition is its highest endorsement.