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|Saunders digs into history of mound builders|
For two decades, Joe Saunders has been quietly digging into northeast Louisiana's unrecorded history. Beneath the surface of the earth, he has found relics of the past which paint a picture of the life of Native American mound builders — especially along the Ouachita River — who populated this region for centuries.
Now after 21 years, the 63-year-old Saunders is retiring this week as Northeast Regional Archaeologist. He has been based at the Department of Geosciences at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
His work has been recognized nationally and one local project he spearheaded is familiar to many northeast Louisiana residents — the Louisiana Ancient Mounds Driving Trail. Markers denoting historic mound sites now dot the entire region.
The person who hired Saunders 21 years ago, Nancy Hawkins, says thanks to Saunders' work "we now have a clear understanding of the tradition of mound building in northeast Louisiana, from the earliest beginnings more than 5,000 years ago to the arrival of the Europeans."
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