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East Gull Lake in Cass County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

In Death, a Story of Life: The Gull Lake Burial Mounds

 
 
In Death, a Story of Life: The Gull Lake Burial Mounds Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By McGhiever, June 9, 2016
1. In Death, a Story of Life: The Gull Lake Burial Mounds Marker
Inscription.  What is a burial mound?
Today, tombstones in cemeteries mark the burials of people from nearby towns and villages. They may tell us about the lifespan, disease, or other aspects of a person's life. The Gull Lake Mounds mark the burials of ancient people that once lived in a villages near this location. In the past, archaeologists excavated these mounds to learn about their burial customs, diseases, and other aspects of early life at Gull Lake. They encountered the fragmented remains of 38 people, pottery, stone tools, and animals bones, providing clues to the identity and customs of these early inhabitants.

Who was buried in the mounds?
The people buried in the mounds were of the Woodland tradition, which is a general term given by archaeologists to the later prehistoric peoples of the eastern North American woodlands. The types of pottery found in these mounds are common to the region and characteristic of particular prehistoric Woodland groups between 800 B.C. and A.D. 900.

Accounts by early explorers and Native American oral tradition link the Dakota people to the Headwaters Region, suggesting
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that many prehistoric Woodland sites may represent the ancestral Dakota.

The Woodland tradition begins with the use of pottery vessels, the construction of burial mounds, and plant cultivation. It was a period of population increse, decreased mobility, and a greater association with particular places on the landscape. Villages, supported by horticulture, or in northern Minnesota the gathering of wild rice, were occupied for longer periods throughout the year becoming larger and more established.

Mounds and burials
Some mounds were ritually constructed over time with different burial episodes adding to the size and shape of the mound. At Gull Lake, it appears the earlier burials were placed in pits. The evidence suggests a fire was built over the pit before mound construction. Later burials were placed on the ground surface and mounded with earth.

Approximately half of the burial areas within the mounds contained the remains of more than one person. Most of the individuals were represented by only the skull and long bones, suggesting that mound burial was the last step in the burial custom. The bodies may have been placed on a scaffold or other similar treatment and only portions of the individuals gathered for burial in the mound. This custom is referred to by archeologists as a bundle burial.
 
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In Death, a Story of Life: The Gull Lake Burial Mounds Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By McGhiever, June 9, 2016
2. In Death, a Story of Life: The Gull Lake Burial Mounds Marker
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (Marker Number 1.)
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Anthropology & ArchaeologyCemeteries & Burial SitesNative Americans. A significant historical year for this entry is 900 CE.
 
Location. 46° 24.661′ N, 94° 21.129′ W. Marker is in East Gull Lake, Minnesota, in Cass County. Marker is at the intersection of Gull Lake Drive and Gull Lake Dam Road, on the left when traveling east on Gull Lake Drive. The marker is in Gull Lake Recreation Area, at the beginning of the trail through the Gull Lake Aboriginal Burial Mounds. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 10867 E Gull Lake Drive, Brainerd MN 56401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 9 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. In Death, A Story of Life: The Gull Lake Burial Mounds (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named In Death, a Story of Life: The Gull Lake Burial Mounds (a few steps from this marker); Geology of Minnesota (approx. 3 miles away); The Present Location of the Lake Hubert Depot (approx. 7.7 miles away); Lake Hubert Depot (approx. 7.7 miles away); Reconciliation (approx. 8 miles away); All Veterans Memorial (approx. 8.1 miles away); Former Northern Pacific Railway Water Tower (approx. 8.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in East Gull Lake.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 10, 2022. It was originally submitted on January 8, 2022, by McGhiever of Minneapolis, Minnesota. This page has been viewed 652 times since then and 64 times this year. Last updated on January 9, 2022, by McGhiever of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on January 8, 2022, by McGhiever of Minneapolis, Minnesota. • J. Makali Bruton was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 2, 2024