Native American Mounds
Q: Do all mounds contain burial?
Past archaeological research indicates that most mounds contain burials and therefore, Wisc. Stat 157.70 assumes that all mounds are burial mounds.
Q: Are their different types of mounds?
Yes. The earliest mounds, dating to perhaps as early as 500 BC, were all conical (round) mounds and often contained many burials. About 700 AD, Native Americans began to build effigy mounds, mounds in the shapes of animals like birds, bears, and panthers. Effigy mounds typically contain only a few burials.
Q: How do I know if I have a mound(s) on my property?
You can contact the Burial Sites Preservation Program to see if the database lists any mounds on or near your property. If it doesn't and you think a mound is present on your property, the Burial Sites staff may be able to visit your property or, you may contact a qualified archaeologist to come and walk over your land.
If a burial mound is present on your property, you are eligible for a tax exemption once the mound is catalogued. Burial Sites staff can provide you with information on cataloging your burial mound.
Q: Where do I go to find out more about burial mounds?
Many mound groups have been preserved in Wisconsin's state, city and county parks, and in highway waysides. Contact the Office of the State Archaeologist, or your County Historical Society to find out which groups are accessible to the public.
Also, check out Indian Mounds of Wisconsin, written by Bob Birmingham and Leslie Eisenberg.
Q: If I have a mound on my property, can I still develop the land?
As long as you do not disturb the mound or mounds, you may develop your property. If the mounds are formally cataloged under Wisconsin law, the cataloged area is exempt from property taxes.
Q: What Indian tribes built the mounds?
Native Americans stopped constructing mounds many centuries ago. Archaeologists have not been able to definitively link any of today's Native American tribes to the mounds. However, some hypothesize that the ancestors of the Ho-Chunk built the effigy mounds.