The Mystery of the Mounds
Eﬃgy Mounds National Monument
—National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior —
The argument continued until modern archeologists began unraveling the mystery of the mounds and their builders.
Location. 43° 5.208′ N, 91° 11.148′ W. Marker is in Harper Ferry, Iowa, in Allamakee County. Marker is on State Highway 76. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 151 Highway 76, Harpers Ferry IA 52146, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Old Military Trail (approx. 1˝ miles away); L'ancien Cimetiere Francais (approx. 2.1 miles away in Wisconsin); War of 1812 (approx. 2˝ miles away in Wisconsin); Villa Louis
More about this marker. From the National Park website.
Effigy Mounds National Monument
The Late Woodland Period (1400-750 B.P.) along the Upper Mississippi River and extending east to Lake Michigan is associated with the culture known today as the Effigy Moundbuilders. The construction of effigy mounds was a regional cultural phenomenon. Mounds of earth in the shapes of birds, bear, deer, bison, lynx, turtle, panther or water spirit are the most common images. Like earlier groups, the Effigy Moundbuilders continued to build conical mounds for burial purposes, but their burial sites lacked the trade goods of the preceding Middle Woodland Culture. The Effigy Moundbuilders also built linear or long rectangular mounds that were used for ceremonial purposes that remain a mystery. Some archeologists believe they were built to mark celestial events or seasonal observances. Others speculate they were constructed as territorial
The animal-shaped mounds remain the symbol of the Effigy Mounds Culture. Along the Mississippi River in northeast Iowa and across the river in southwest Wisconsin, two major animal mound shapes seem to prevail: the bear and the bird. Near Lakes Michigan and Winnebago, water spirit earthworks—historically called turtle and panther mounds—are more common.
More Information on Archeology at Effigy Mounds
The Range of the Effigy Mound Culture
The Effigy Mound Culture extends from Dubuque, Iowa, north into southeast Minnesota, across southern Wisconsin from the Mississippi to Lake Michigan, and along the Wisconsin-Illinois boundary. The counties of Dubuque, Clayton, and Allamakee contain almost all the effigy mounds found.
What do the Effigy Mounds Represent?
Clues can be found in American Indian legends and mythology and to a lesser extent, scientific research. The stories and legends of the Native Americans whose ancestors built the mounds describe the effigy mounds as ceremonial and sacred sites. Archeologists believe the effigy mounds delineated territories of choice gathering and hunting grounds. Unfortunately, much of the data is inconclusive.
Present day American Indian tribes affiliated with Effigy Mounds National Monument include:
Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Oklahoma
Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
Upper Sioux Community of Minnesota
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community In the State of Minnesota
Lower Sioux Indian Community In the State of Minnesota
Prairie island Indian Community In the State of Minnesota
Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa
Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska
Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma
Categories. • Anthropology • Native Americans •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 19, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 915 times since then and 175 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on December 19, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.