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Iowa History Daily: October 25 - Effigy Mounds National Monument

Iowa History Daily: On October 25, 1949, President Harry S. Truman signed a presidential proclamation to create Effigy Mounds National Monument. At the time, the 1,000-acre monument consisted of today’s South Unit, including the Marching Bear Group, and today’s North Unit, including the Little and Great Bear Groups of mounds.

Effigy Mounds National Monument preserves more than 200 prehistoric mounds built by pre-Columbian Mound Builder cultures, mostly in the first millennium CE. Shaped like animals, including bears and birds, the monument contains several mound groups in two primary units. Carved out of the state-held Yellow River State Forest, the Yellow River divides the North and South units of the park.

During the 1950s and 1960s, consequently, the National Park Service excavated the effigy and burial mounds found within the monument. The excavations reduced or destroyed the burial and ceremonial mounds’ value as scientific objects, and some people questioned the wisdom and benefit of excavations. In 1959, Effigy Mounds established a policy prohibiting further destructive investigations of the mounds.

Today, the monument stands primarily in Allamakee County, with a small part in Clayton Count. The park's visitor center is located in Harpers Ferry, just north of Marquette. Numerous federally recognized tribes have linguistic and cultural ties to the ancestral peoples who built the effigy and other earthwork mounds at the monument site. The National Park Service recognizes a cultural association between the monument Indigenous peoples including the Dakota (Sioux), Báxoje (Ioway), Winnebago - Ho Chunk, Otoe-Missouria, Sauk, Meskwaki, and Ponca. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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