Oakville is a small community located in the southeast corner of Lawrence County, Alabama. The community is unincorporated. The community has two parks, one dedicated to 20th-century African-American athlete Jesse Owens and the other to Middle Woodland period and Cherokee Native Americans.
The Jesse Owens museum was opened in 1996. Owens was born and spent the majority of his childhood in the community before his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. The Jesse Owens Memorial Park and Museum is at the intersection of county road 203 and 187.
Oakville Indian Mounds Park and Museum
The Oakville Indian Mounds Park and Museum is an 83-acre (340,000 m2) state park dedicated to ancient Native American monuments and the historic Cherokee nation of the Southeast. It preserves twenty 2,000-year-old mounds built by Middle Woodland-era (1-500 CE) prehistoric indigenous peoples. The Copena culture developed out of the Hopewell tradition. They were named for their distinctive use of copper and galena, a lead ore mineral. The most significant earthworks are a burial mound and the Copena Ceremonial Mound, the largest ceremonial mound surviving in present-day Alabama. The latter is 27 feet (8.2 m) high, with a base of 1.8 acres (7,300 m2). The platform top has an area of 1-acre (4,000 m2). The Copena culture developed from the complex Hopewell tradition, whose people had a wide regional trading network across the continent.
The state museum is designed in the style of a Cherokee council house, as these were the dominant indigenous people of the area at the time of European encounter. It provides exhibits on the Copena culture, displaying more than 1000 archeological artifacts that were excavated on site. It also includes material on the historic Cherokee nation, whose people had migrated to the area and inhabited it by the time of European encounter in the 17th century. They are not descendants of the Copena culture but are believed to have migrated south from the Great Lakes area in ancient times.
In addition, the museum includes a display explaining the history of the so-called "Black-Dutch" people of the area, mixed-race descendants of European and Cherokee who stayed in the area after Indian Removal in the nineteenth century. They generally identified as Cherokee but tried to avoid discrimination by calling themselves "Black Dutch". Since the mid-twentieth century, they have reclaimed their Cherokee ancestry and, according to the display, four thousand people are now enrolled as members of the state-recognized Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama.
The grounds of the museum include part of the Black Warriors’ Path, which goes past the mounds. Beginning in Cullman County, Alabama, it passes through the state and was long used by Native Americans. Later, British-American pioneers called it Mitchell Trace.
The park also has a lake and fishing pier. The street address for the park is 1219 County Rd. 187, Danville, Alabama, 35619.
- Oakville Indian Mounds Education Center (official website)
- Friends of Oakville Mounds, Inc., Alabama Grassroots Clearinghouse, Auburn University
- Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce: Area Attractions
- "Oakville Indian Mounds Park and Museum" - Danville, Alabama, Trip Advisor