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Effigy Mounds Culture

For many thousands of years Wisconsin's inhabitants survived by hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants. Each community moved often, traveling to places where food could be found in abundance. Springs and summers were spent in river valleys and near lakes. During cold weather, families separated from one another and moved into sheltered upland valleys. As the years passed, complex social and religious systems appeared, evolved, and vanished, leaving the basic pattern of life unchanged.

Between 700 BC and AD 0, pottery, domesticated plants, and the practice of building earthen burial mounds were introduced to Wisconsin. These changes marked the beginning... more...

Original Documents and Other Primary Sources

Link to article: The first careful investigation of Wisconsin mounds is published in 1838.  The first careful investigation of Wisconsin mounds is published in 1838.
Link to article: The "Vanished Race of Mound Builders" theory advanced in 1906.  The "Vanished Race of Mound Builders" theory advanced in 1906.
Link to article: A Mormon writer theorizes about the origins of Aztalan in 1845  A Mormon writer theorizes about the origins of Aztalan in 1845
Link to article: The second scholarly attempt to map and explain the mounds (1842)  The second scholarly attempt to map and explain the mounds (1842)
Link to book: Cyrus Thomas proves in 1894 that Indians built the effigy mounds.  Cyrus Thomas proves in 1894 that Indians built the effigy mounds.
Link to images: Increase Lapham examining a meteorite, ca. 1868  Increase Lapham examining a meteorite, ca. 1868
Link to images: Pictures of Native American Burial Mounds  Pictures of Native American Burial Mounds
Link to manuscript: Increase Lapham lectures on Indian mounds, 1851  Increase Lapham lectures on Indian mounds, 1851
Link to manuscript: Archaeologist Increase Lapham writes home from the field.  Archaeologist Increase Lapham writes home from the field.

Primary Sources Available Elsewhere

Link to article: Wisconsin scientist P.R. Hoy on effigy mounds (1885)  Wisconsin scientist P.R. Hoy on effigy mounds (1885)
Link to book: A young scientist leaves the first account of Wisconsin mounds in 1823.  A young scientist leaves the first account of Wisconsin mounds in 1823.
Link to book: William Pidgeon proposes a vanished race in 1852.  William Pidgeon proposes a vanished race in 1852.
Link to book: Increase Lapham's scholarly book on Wisconsin's effigy mounds, 1855  Increase Lapham's scholarly book on Wisconsin's effigy mounds, 1855

Related Links

Visit our archaeology Web pages
Read about our "People of the Woodlands" museum exhibition
Visit the Web site of the Menominee Indian Tribe
Visit the Web site of the Ho-chunk Nation
Answers to questions about mounds from our Burial Sites Preservation Program
The best book on Wisconsin's Indian mounds, by WHS archaeologists
Visit Aztalan State Park and Museum (directions, hours and photographs)
Discover the standard book about Wisconsin Indians, by Patty Loew
Learn about the monographs in our Museum's Archaeology Research Series
Discover classroom resources available from our Office of School Services
Search our catalogs for materials on this topic that aren't yet available online.
Borrow books about this topic through our interlibrary loan service
Borrow manuscripts about this topic through our Area Research Center network.
Learn about other topics from our new book, Wisconsin History Highlights
Arrange a tour on this topic at our Museum

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