told The New York Times in 2005. “Well, this is Newark, Ohio, which pretty much precludes rich fat cats.”

Kratoville described the club’s roughly 300 current members as belonging to “a blue-collar country club.”

“Our members are people like plumbers,” he said, “and they come out for a day and clean up sand traps and plant flowers.”

Two lower courts have ruled in the History Connection’s favor, and now it is up to the Ohio Supreme Court to consider whether the nonprofit has the right to buy out the remainder of the lease. The History Connection, formerly known as the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, last used eminent domain about a century ago to acquire several acres of earthworks 100 miles south of the Octagon site.

The country club is arguing that the History Connection did not negotiate in “good faith,” which is required before a taking under eminent domain, and that the public purpose being served — an expanded program of research, education services and preservation — could be accomplished without ending the lease of a major employer.

Zachary J. Murry, an Ohio lawyer who specializes in eminent domain cases, said the court may be unwilling to take on the role of deciding which of the competing public purposes is better because policy determinations are typically made by other branches of government.

But if the court did assume that role, one question would be, he said, whether operating as a public park and the prospect of becoming a world-recognized wonder was a sufficient rationale to warrant the taking now, when the recognition has not yet been granted.

“This ‘conditional’ necessity seems problematic,” he said.

If the club does move, Kratoville said he was unsure whether the Moundbuilders County Club would keep its name. But it would certainly not try to recreate the mounds, he said.

“You can’t do that,” he said. “It would be a different course.”

The Supreme Court is only tasked with deciding the eminent domain issue. If the History Connection is found to have the right to take over the lease, compensation would be hashed out at a later date in a lower court — an amount Murry said would ultimately likely fall somewhere between the two appraisals.

Glenna Wallace, the first female chief of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, who considers the moundbuilders her ancestors, said the dispute goes beyond monetary value. World Heritage recognition for the earthworks — and full public access — would play a crucial role in reframing the way visitors think about Native Americans, she said.

“The sophistication required to create this shows my ancestors weren’t savages,” she said. “This needs to be open to people every single day of the week, every single day of the year.”

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