Climb the Mounds at Chucalissa
Updated october 2017
To get to the Chucalissa archaeological site, you take a wide, winding road lined with “Turtle Crossing” signs through southwestern Shelby County, past factories and and train yards. When you turn into T.O. Fuller State Park, the landscape changes suddenly – the open fields and gravel give way to a dense forest.
Chucalissa is the former site of a Mississippian Indian village that was home to about 1,000 people in the 15th century. It’s original residents built large earthen mounds to define the village. The village was abandoned sometime in the mid-1500s.
Though the replicas of the original huts and exhibit on human burials are gone, there’s still plenty to see at Chucalissa.
The C.H. Nash Museum features diorama-style displays on the lives of the site’s residents and artifacts found around the mounds. There’s a hands-on room that’s full of touchable pottery, furs and artifacts from the site. Those who aren’t squeamish can attempt to rebuild a disassembled raccoon skeleton.
The University of Memphis archaeological school has managed Chucalissa since 1962.Chucalissa has special programs throughout the year that promote Mississippian Indian culture. The annual Heritage Festival in September features spear throwing demonstrations, dance, stickball games and traditional Native American food.
The museum also has a weekly Family Day ( Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.) where families who pay regular admission can get a music program or archeological program, go on a scavenger hunt through the grounds, and make pottery to take home.
Admission $6 for adults, $4 for kids and seniors