The photos above, taken decades apart, illustrate the dedication and passion that John "Jay" Jackson has held over the years for earthworks sites throughout Ohio. His interest began at an early age, fostered by his father, who taught him the meaning behind the sites and instilled the respect and awe that Jackson retains for them today.
While his interest in American Indian culture and archaeology has spanned his lifetime, Jackson's retirement in 1998 provided the opportunity to dedicate more time to learning and volunteering. He signed up for archaeology classes at The Ohio State University and later participated in a week-long seminar that focused on the archaeological methods and history of the earthworks. He began volunteering in the garden at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park in Chillicothe in 2016, where he grows many of the crops Native Americans relied upon. Spring of 2022, he was honored at Ross-Chillicothe Convention and Visitors Bureau's annual Pineapple Awards as Volunteer of the Year for his exceptional service at Hopewell Culture National Historical Park. The human connection made through visiting and learning about the earthworks is what continually draws Jackson to the sites. He connects through the tangible aspects, imagining the people who lived there, the work that they put into creating the earthworks and the ceremonies that occurred there. He imagines the people thousands of years ago, witnessing the same sunset in the same place, and the human connection is made. "It's such an obvious space that invites ritual," Jackson says.
Jackson's passion led him to make a charitable gift to the Ohio History Connection through his estate plans, establishing the Fort Ancient and Fort Hill Site Maintenance Endowment. This gift will assist in preserving and maintaining the sites, a vital aspect that's often overlooked. "That's what drives me to preserve-not through something grand but through maintenance," Jackson remarks. His gift will help ensure that the earthworks are preserved for future generations to learn about and visit.