Effigy Mounds National Monument: Sacred Lands & Waters

Effigy Mounds National Monument: Sacred Lands & Waters

Lakota cultural resource manager Albert Lebeau is our guide to this exploration of Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa.


Effigy Mounds National Monument

I feel, when you come to Effigy Mounds, you feel it. A lot of people don't understand it but there is something you feel. There is a sacredness here. Effigy Mounds National Monument is a cemetery. We figured about 90% of the mounds are probably burial mounds or contain human remains of some sort.

My name is Albert Lebeau. I am the Cultural Resource Manager for Effigy Mounds National Monument.

There's different mounds being built throughout the country. We have Hopewellian Mounds, which are further east. We have Mississippian mounds, which are east and south of here. And then, we have our mounds, the Effigy Mounds.

The Effigy Mounds in southern Wisconsin is unique in whereas we have a lot of effigies.

What's right behind me is a mound that's known as "Little Bear." And the reason he's called Little Bear is because there's a bigger Bear not too far from where we're at right now. So he's the Little Bear.

Basically all "effigies" means is that they're made to look like something. As an archeologist, I can't say for sure that this is a bear. I can say that it resembles a terrestrial land animal that has four legs and it's being represented by this particular effigy.

In our south unit we have our jewel, which we call the "Marching Bears." Marching Bears is a very special place and when you go up there, you'll feel it. It is a very special place.

We know that this area has been used and continues to be used by tribal folks, through time immemorial. The Native people who continue to use this, it's their site and they're able, you know, I'm just managing it, I'm just making sure that they can still use it, they still have access to it, and making sure that no other harm has been done to it.

Stories from different tribes throughout the country, refer back to the Mississippi River. I feel a connection here, but the connection is more of a distant connection. Because, my ancestors, my recent ancestors, used scaffold and bundle burials. We didn't build mounds. So, this whole area, even known to the Lakotas, who where a Plains tribe, knew about this place, and knew that we can't fight here.

The Ho-Chunk say the same thing, Sauk and Fox, the Ioway, the Missouria. All these different tribal groups all say the exact same thing. That this place was a neutral zone to meet and pray.

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More Information can be found at: https://www.nps.gov/efmo/index.htm and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effigy_Mounds_National_Monument


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