A Prehistoric Village In Nashville Will Become A Park — With A Name Meant To Honor And Intrigue

Jan 5, 2017

A new name has been chosen for an archaeological site near the border between Nashville and Brentwood. The prehistoric village that has been referred to as “Kellytown” will now be known by a Native American word.

The title Aaittafama’ was presented to the Metro Parks Board on Tuesday by Bill Coke, former mayor of Forest Hills, who said it follows a recommendation by Native Americans.

“They suggested Aaittafama’ — which translates to a place for meeting together in the Chickasaw Muskegon language,” he said. “We hope that when completed it will become a place for meeting together.”

The future archaeological park is across the road from Forest Hills City Hall, where artifacts have been on display. The satellite city, along with project supporters, helped Metro purchase the 7-acre site in 2014, and a historic landmark designation was later added.

Aaittafama’ replaces Kellytown, a placeholder used by archeologists in reference to the family that eventually owned the land, and whose descendants are in favor of the change.

The renaming is part of the ongoing creation of an educational park to explain prehistoric art, farming and culture among the land’s earliest residents.

The site became a legal battleground in the 1990s. To try to protect ancient burials, local Native Americans resisted the widening of Hillsboro Road where it crosses Old Hickory Boulevard.

These artifacts were found at the site to be known as Aaittafama’.
Credit Courtesy of Hodgson Douglas

After lengthy preservation efforts, the new name is meant to symbolize unity — and to intrigue potential visitors, said Ridley Wills, president of the Friends of Kellytown.

“The idea is that it makes people ask: What is this?” he said. “We will have, underneath it on signage, an archeological explanation.”

Other plans for the site include outdoor classroom spaces, a native plant meadow, sculptures and eventual connections to nearby greenways.

“We’re trying to save this thing that can never be retrieved,” Wills said. “If a gas station or a fast food restaurant went on top of it, it would be ruined forever.”