Wheeler Pounds hopes that visitors to the Bankhead House and Heritage Center do more than admire his vast collection of Native American artifacts; he wants to educate them as well.
"When people leave here, what I want them to say is 'I know a lot more about Indian artifacts than I did when I came," Pounds said.
There is much to learn from "Alabama's History of Native Americans," which opened Tuesday. For example, anyone who lingers over the various displays will never again mistake every pointed rock for an arrowhead.
The artifacts on display at the Bankhead House are only a fraction of the collection that Pounds started in the early 2000s. An additional 7,500 artifacts are housed at the Oakville Indian Mounds Park and Museum in Lawrence County.
Part of collection is featured in the "Handbook of Alabama's Prehistoric Indians and Artifacts," a valuable resource for collectors.
Rickey Butch Walker, former director of Lawrence County Schools’ Indian Education Program and Oakville Indian Mounds Education Center, helped spark Pounds' interest in collecting artifacts of their Native American ancestors.
Both Walker and Pounds are members of the Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama. Pounds serves as chief of the tribe's Blue Clan.
Approximately a decade after Pounds began buying up the Native American artifact collections that others were discarding for one reason or another, he published his first novel "The Cherokee Hideaway." It is now part of a trilogy that includes "The Cellar Vault" and "The Spy Sanctuary."
"Alabama's History of Native Americans" runs through Sept. 20 at the Bankhead House and Heritage Center. Admission is free.
School groups can schedule a tour by calling 302-0001. Funds are available to cover transportation expenses for field trips from Walker County and Jasper City schools.