Jun. 23—ALTO — Three years ago a tornado ripped apart the facilities at Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, six miles west of Alto. Construction is ongoing to replace the museum that was destroyed that day, and now the iconic grass house is about to be replaced and the public is invited to be a part of the historic build.
Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, a Texas Historical Commission property, is the remains of a large village and religious center built by a group of Caddo Indians known as the Hasinai more than 1,200 years ago on the prairie overlooking the Neches River. Located on approximately 400 acres along the historic El Camino Real de los Tejas, the site presents the culture and customs of the Caddo people.
Caddo Mounds Site Manager Anthony Souther said there is a job for anyone at any skill level.
"Anyone from 18 to 80 is welcome," Souther said. "We not only need construction help but support help as well."
The award-winning grass house destroyed in the storm was originally constructed in 2016 with the help of Caddo people and volunteers from across the state. Many of those volunteers will be returning to help rebuild and additional volunteers are needed.
"We had roughly 70 volunteers in 2016, and many of those will be returning," Souther said. "We will have Caddo apprentices on site during the entire period, but on July 8, 9 and 10 we will have around 30 Caddo volunteers from all over the country here to do the main construction of the structure."
Each day at 7:30 a.m. from July 5 through July 17, volunteers will gather in the temporary visitors' center. A variety of jobs are available for volunteers:
July 5 through July 16: Pole collection and pole peeling
July 7: Pole peeling continues, and grasses and willow previously collected will be moved to and staged at the construction site.
July 8: Primary poles will be set and perhaps some lathing
July 9 through July 10: House construction will be limited to members of the Caddo Tribe, who will travel to the site from Oklahoma and beyond. Other activities scheduled include demonstrations by Caddo potter Chase Earles, rock painting for a rock mural to be installed in Snake Woman's Garden, a community weaving project, atlatl demonstrations and more.
July 11-17: Lathing and thatching
July 17: Installing the rock mural in Snake Woman's Garden
Volunteers to help with set-up, logistics, in the museum and gift shop and other projects will be needed each day, as well.
Souther wanted to especially thank the Friends of Caddo Mounds for their hard work and fundraising efforts.
"We couldn't have done the project in 2016 if it weren't for them," Souther said. "And it's due to their fundraising efforts that this one will happen."
The groups efforts have made it possible for Caddo volunteers from around the nation to have food and lodging so they could be a part of the project.
"That is our goal, to foster a good working relationship with the Caddo tribe across the country," Souther said.
For more information or to register as a volunteer for the day or days that best fits your schedule call 936-858-3221.
Caddo Mounds State Historical Site is located at 1649 State Hwy 21 in Alto, Texas.
To find out more visit www.visitcaddomounds.com.