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New site to be examined at Effigy Mounds this summer


Effigy Mounds National Monument in northeast Iowa, home to over 200 prehistoric Indian mounds on the 2,500 acres north of Marquette, might add another mound to the map.

Last summer, field work revealed a new mound in the northeast part of the park, which was established in 1949. The discovery has not been confirmed as a burial site and will be examined this summer.

1885 mound map — image from the from the Feb. 2016 Effigy Mounds National Monument Cultural Landscape Report and Environmental Assessment by the U.S. National Park Service
1885 mound map — image from the from the Feb. 2016 Effigy Mounds National Monument Cultural Landscape Report and Environmental Assessment by the U.S. National Park Service

“We’re looking forward to working with them [the NPS] to determine if, in fact, it is part of the mound system there,” said William Quackenbush. He is the historic preservation officer for the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, one of the North American Indian tribes with ancestors buried in the mounds.

Last year, a National Park Service internal report detailed a “decade of dysfunction” and 78 construction projects that included boardwalks, bridges, roads and a shed that may have disturbed ancient burial sites at Effigy Mounds.

For over ten years, many projects were done without oversight of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, which requires the NPS to consider the effect of work on historic sites.

By 2014, some of the unauthorized construction, including a shed and a boardwalk trail had been removed. A larger boardwalk on the Yellow River and a bridge remain.

Lidar image of Marching Bears Mound Group at Effigy Mounds National Monument — image via of the U.S. National Park Service
Lidar image of Marching Bears Mound Group at Effigy Mounds National Monument — image courtesy the U.S. National Park Service

In 2015, retired park superintendent Thomas Munson signed a plea deal that acknowledged his theft of human remains in 1990. He stored two boxes of bones in his garage for years until a 2011 investigation unearthed his haul.

Munson stole the remains just before the enactment of the Native American Graves Protection and Repartition Act, which was requires federal agencies and museums to return burial and cultural items to their tribes.

Effigy Mounds is located in Allamakee and Clayton Counties.


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