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Goc, Michael J. / From past to present : the history of Adams County

Native people,   pp. 12-16 PDF (3.5 MB)

Page 12

Above: These 
mounds in 
Strong's Prairie, 
now beneath 
Petenwell Lake, 
were among Ohe 
600 effigy 
mounds tallied in 
the county in 
1916. Following 
Page: Roger 
Tallmadge, who 
established the 
Public Indian 
Museum in Dell 
Prairie, to 
preserve the 
Indian heritage of 
central Wiscon- 
sin. (Courtesy, 
H.H. Bennett 
Native People 
Prehistoric Heritage 
Whe native American heritage of 
Adams County is thousands of 
years old. The tradition of the Ho- 
Chunk people holds that they have lived here for 
as long as anyone has and archaeological evidence 
supports the view that humans have inhabited the 
central part of the Wisconsin River Valley for over 
10,000 years. 
Although rare, specimens of the oldest style of 
stone tool making--Clovis points--have been found 
by local collectors. Much more common are stone 
points--" arrowheads" --dating back 5,000 years and 
most common are those from the Early Woodland 
period which began about 2,500 years ago. 
These finds include both stone tools and 
pottery and number in the thousands. They 
indicate that people of some culture and practical 
skills have lived in central Wisconsin for many 
thousands of years. 
The most widespread evidence of prehistoric 
people living in Adams County takes the form of 
the earthworks known as "burial" or "effigy" 
mounds. When first surveyed between 1913 and 
1916, a total of 666 mounds were counted in the 
county. Since American settlers had been plowing 
fields, building roads and dams and otherwise 
working the land for seventy years by then, it is 
quite likely that many more mounds once existed. 
The mounds, which were constructed between 
1,500 and 1,000 years ago, took many shapes and 
sizes. Many were conical mounds that resembled 
half-scoops of ice cream as big as a round hay 
bale. Others were linear, up to five feet high, ten 
feet wide and stretching as far as a football field. 
Many more were in the shape of animals: cat-like 
"panthers" with long curving tales, blocky bears, 
bison or turtles; birds with wings outstretched for 
hundreds of feet. 
Some mounds were used to bury tools and 
other implements, others became graves for 
people, while many showed no signs of any 
purpose other than to stand on their own. 
When the American settlers arrived here, few 
of them were curious about the mounds. The Ho- 
Chunk and Menominee people living in the county 
at the time knew little about them. With all the 
upheaval that had taken place in Indian culture 
since the first arrival of Europeans in Wisconsin in 
the late 1600s, it is not surprising that memories of 
the moundbuilders were lost. Despite that loss, the 
c r 

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