Image 1: Cesspool created by the Valley Creek Water Reclamation Facility, on the site of the Tally Mounds near Bessemer, Ala. The mounds were first occupied during the Late Woodland Period between 800-1000 CE but were leveled in the 1900s. Alongside the water sewage plant, an Amazon fulfillment center and VisionLand, a defunct theme park, are now located near the site. The air smelled of urine and feces, and I couldn’t help but compare the sickening feeling it elicited to the way I felt reading the Trump administration’s Columbus Day proclamation this morning. In it, the president accused "radical activists" who seek to “revise” Columbus' legacy and “deprive it of any splendor, and mark it as inherently sinister.” The proclamation also called for the building of new monuments to “American Heroes” and promotion of “patriotic education” that “honors our founding” — all done to “safeguard our history and stop this new wave of iconoclasm by standing against those who spread hate and division.”
Image 2-3: The two images that follow are made in the valley near the site of the historic mounds. While photographing, I happened to meet the man who owned the property. When I told him what I was there for he replied, “We’ve owned this land since 1914. Ain’t no Indian mounds here, and if there was, maybe we could sell ‘em for something.” Turns out, they already had.