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State Supreme Court sides with Ohio History Connection in bid for Newark earthworks site

Ohio History Connection

The Supreme Court of Ohio has ruled in favor of the Ohio History Connection's bid to acquire and reclaim a prehistoric Native American earthworks site in Newark through eminent domain.

The Octagon Earthworks sit on land owned by the Ohio History Connection, but has been leased for over a century to the Moundbuilders Country Club.

Wednesday's ruling affirms two lower courts' decisions allowing OHC to take back the land early so that it can be turned into a public park.

Part of a network of sites built around 2,000 years ago, the Octagon's earthen walls are aligned to the four moonrises and moonsets that mark a complicated 18.6-year-long lunar cycle, explains OHC executive director and CEO Megan Wood.

"Just like being able to go see the Colosseum in Rome or Stonehenge, we're lucky to have this heritage in our backyard," Wood said. "And so to make it publicly accessible and appropriately used has been our goal."

Wood said the ultimate goal is to get this and other Hopewell ceremonial sites in Ohio inscribed to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Meanwhile, the attorney representing Moundbuilders Country Club said the legal fight over the site is not over.

"Although we are disappointed with the decision, it is highly likely that we will file a motion for reconsideration," attorney Joe Fraley said.

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.