Effigy Mounds National Monument - Unique Places in North America

Fourteen miles of trails run through the Effigy Mounds National Monument.
Fourteen miles of trails run through the Effigy Mounds National Monument.

The Effigy Mounds National Monument is located in Allamakee County, Iowa. The site preserves a variety of ancient Native Americans mounds. The effigy mounds exist in different shapes including birds and bears. Historians trace the origin of the mounds to around a millennium ago. They are significant archeological resources that provide an insight into the political, economic, and social aspects of the Native Americans. There are 206 mounds at the monument of which 31 takes the shape of birds or bears. There are several Effigies in parts of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin but only the Effigy Mounds National Monument bear the animal-shaped mounds.


The mound was declared an American national monument in October 1959 and surveyed by Charles Keyes and Ellison Orr. Visitors access the visitor center where they can view the museum’s exhibits, natural artifacts and archeological artifacts and buy books about the history of native Americans. There is a 14-mile streak but no paved roads. Park rangers guide tourists through the trail and provide demonstrations on how the natives used tools. Camping within the park is not allowed by authorities to control contamination by human activities.


The Effigy Mounds Monument is among the most preserves and unique places in the United States. Although other mounds can be found within the country, the Effigy monument is the only place where animal-shaped mounds are concentrated. The Great Bear Mound is the largest effigy in the monument measuring 138 ft from the nose to the tail tip. Some modern federally recognized tribes have been linked with the mounds and are once in a while allowed to perform cultural rituals within the park.


The monument sits on 4 sqm land. In eastern Iowa, they lie on the point at which the hardwood forest gives way to the central plains. The Native Americans had access to resources in the wetlands, plain, and the forest. They occupied these environments for several centuries. Effigy Mounds is close to the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and the Pikes Peak State Park. Several other federal wildlife areas such as the Sny Magill Creek are also close to the Effigy Mounds. The park lies in a driftless area of North America that was able to escape the last ice age.


Just like other historical monuments across the globe, the Effigy Mounds are threatened by human activities. Although authorities are trying to preserve the artifacts, weather and other natural elements are subjecting them to slow degradation. In July 2016, an employee of the monument pleaded guilty to stealing excavated bones dating between 700 and 2,500 years ago. The erosion and westernization of the Native American culture is also another threat as the natives lose their native identity and attachment to the mounds.


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