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Effigy Mounds

The Effigy Mounds, located in Allamakee, Dubuque, and Clayton counties, are burial mounds that range along the Upper Mississippi River. The area covers 2,526 acres and contains more than 200 mounds built by the Woodland Indians, 800 to 1,600 years ago. Living near the forests and wetlands of the Mississippi, the Woodland Indians were a hunter-gatherer society that lived in campsites and rock outcrops near the river. The tribe enjoyed a varying diet of fresh water mussels, wild rice, nuts, fruits, berries, white-tailed deer, bear, bison, turkey and waterfowl. A cultural component of their society, was constructing mounds for religious and burial ceremonies. The most common mounds are built in the shapes of animals such as birds, bear, deer, bison, lynx, turtle, panther and water spirit, and are representative of the mound-builders' culture. 31 Bear and bird mounds are found near southwest Wisconsin, while water spirit mounds are found closer to Lake Michigan and Winnebago. The largest mound is the Great Bear Mound at 137 feet long and 70 feet wide. Mounds in the shape of animals are known as Effigy Mounds (effigy means "in shape of"). The animals represent spirits of the earth, sky or water that help those living connect with those who had passed on. Others mounds include conical, which are round and dome-shaped, linear, which is long "cigar shaped" mounds, and compound style, which is a mix of conical and linear that looks similar to a string of beads. In 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed the proclamation to establish the Effigy Mounds National Monument in order to preserve the land and allow the community to learn about the history and culture of the mound-builders. The National Park Service, along with the State of Iowa and Ellison Orr, who had a large impact on surveying and mapping the land, the Effigy Mounds area grew. From 1951-1952, the NPS and State of Iowa secured 204 acres, with an additional 100 acres added in 1961, 200 acres in 1962, and 1,000 acres in 1999. In the 1950s and '60s, archeological digs helped scientists and historians to understand the development and history of the mounds. However, due to ethical concerns over whether the digs were destroying the mounds, in 1959, a policy was established that prevented further "destructive investigations". In the 1980s, the curiosity of the mounds moved from a more scientific viewpoint, to one more humanistic and respective of cultures. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990, requires museums and organizations that "possess Native American artifacts or remains, to consult with the descendants and affiliated tribes on proper treatment of the objects."
U.S. Chronology
Iowa History Eras
Relational Notes
Resource is related to the following objects, which can be found by searching the catalog number in the advanced search section: Catalog #: 2018.029.002- Cradleboard 2018.039.003- Arrowhead 2018.039.002- Pottery 2018.039.004- Axe Head 2018.039.006- Brooch
Iowa County