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Madison in Dane County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Madison is an Indian mound capital

The Madison Heritage Series

 
 
Madison is an Indian mound capital Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, July 9, 2010
1. Madison is an Indian mound capital Marker
Inscription.  At least 887 earthen Indian mounds once dotted the land around lakes Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa, and Kegonsa—so many that archaeologist Charles E. Brown once suggested Madison be renamed Mound City.

Most southern Wisconsin mounds were constructed between 2,800 and 900 years ago. At first Indians shaped them into cones, and later into animal, spirit, and linear forms. Often built on high ground near water, the mounds were burial sites and probably served other ceremonial purposes.

A long-tailed water spirit and two conical mounds once stood where Wilson Street intersects Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Water spirit mounds are sometimes called panther or turtle mounds.

Madison’s wealth of mounds suggests to some researchers that even in ancient times, our city was this region’s “capital.”

Sidebar:

Between 1908 and 1944, archaeologist Charles E. Brown led an effort to preserve Madison’s Indian mounds. The ancient earthworks of this area are sacred to many Ho-Chunk and other Indian people. European settlement gradually destroyed about 65 percent of the mounds in Dane County, but
Closeup of Photo on Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, July 9, 2010
2. Closeup of Photo on Marker
because of the efforts of Brown and others, more than 100 remain, one of the highest concentrations in the country.
 
Erected 2006 by City of Madison.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Anthropology & ArchaeologyNative AmericansSettlements & Settlers.
 
Location. 43° 4.351′ N, 89° 22.897′ W. Marker is in Madison, Wisconsin, in Dane County. Marker is at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard and East Wilson Street, on the right when traveling south on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The marker is near the southeast corner of the City-County Building. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 210 Martin Luther King, Jr Boulevard, Madison WI 53703, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Fairchild Home (within shouting distance of this marker); State Office Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Olin Terrace (within shouting distance of this marker); Pioneer Men and Women (within shouting distance of this marker); Madison Club (within shouting distance of this marker); John A. Urich (within shouting distance of this marker); David James Schaefer
Madison is an Indian mound capital Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, July 9, 2010
3. Madison is an Indian mound capital Marker
The state capitol is in the background, with the City-County Building on the left; on the right, vendors are setting up for the Art Fair Off the Square.
(within shouting distance of this marker); U.S. Post Office and Courthouse (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Madison.
 
More about this marker. This marker is part of the The Madison Heritage Series, Sharing Our Legacy, created for Madison's sesquicentennial. The marker was sponsored by Sponsored by the Madison Community Foundation and Dean Health/St. Marys.
 
Regarding Madison is an Indian mound capital. According to the Wisconsin Historical Society, Charles E. Brown (1872-1946) was "founder of the Wisconsin Archaeological Society and museum director at the State Historical Society. In 1906 he published the first 'Record of Antiquities' in the Wisconsin Archaeologist; as more sites were reported, he included them in a series of five 'Additions' published in subsequent volumes. His maps and manuscripts are still heavily used by modern archaeologists."
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. This is a list of markers at Madison area Indian mounds.
 
Additional comments.
1. The "Lizard" Mound

This mound is described as a lizard in the 1877 book Madison, Dane County and Surrounding Towns Being a History and Guide published by the William J. Park company:

"Near Lake Monona, adjoining Ex-Governor Fairchild's residence, was a lizard 318 feet long. The figure was rude, but not more than was inevitable,
You are Here image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, August 31, 2013
4. You are Here
Indian Mounds Formerly at this Site
Close-up of image on marker
considering that the mound was formed of surface soil, nobody knows how many centuries ago. It was removed in grading Wilson Street and Wisconsin Avenue."
    — Submitted September 6, 2013, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.
 
Mounds at Madison image. Click for full size.
By F. Hudson, 1842
5. Mounds at Madison
F. Hudson drew this picture of the effigy mound and two conical mounds in 1842 when MLK Blvd was called Wisconsin Avenue and Lake Monona was called Third Lake. Increase A. Lapham published it in his 1855 book, Antiquities of Wisconsin.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 28, 2019. It was originally submitted on July 10, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 2,963 times since then and 23 times this year. Last updated on September 10, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 10, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.   3. submitted on July 11, 2010, by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin.   4, 5. submitted on September 6, 2013, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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Jun. 6, 2020