coordinator Chris Tyler describes the geography of area around
To receive full protection under the law, effigy mounds in Wisconsin
must be cataloged by the State Historical Society. If they are left
uncatalogued, the mounds remain subject to disturbance at the hands
of commercial development. So in the hopes of getting the State
Historical Society to catalog the site, the Ancient Earthworks Society
of Wisconsin (AES) surveyed a recently discovered mound group near
Nekoosa late last summer and throughout the fall.
"Maybe (in) a handful of instances over the course of a year
or so do undiscovered mounds come to light," said AES archaeological
consultant Chris Veit. "And that might be a mound or two at a time.
But to find an entire mound group that was not on record at the
Wisconsin Historical Society really provides us with an opportunity
to do some excellent work."
The site contains over 16 features including a square
enclosure mound, a 250-ft. linear mound, several small bear-shaped
mounds, and three circular mounds. It has been named Ceex Haci,
which comes from the Ho-Chunk language and translates to "Marsh
House." According to the Ancient Earthworks Society's education
coordinator, Chris Tyler, the name refers to the landscape that
surrounds the mounds.
"Along (one) side is a ridge of about 15 feet high," Tyler said.
"And going down this ridge is marshland."
The mounds were discovered by environmental activist Bill Greendeer,
a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, during a month-long walk to raise
awareness about an impending pipeline that threatens Wisconsin lands
and waters. The walk followed the route of the Enbridge pipeline,
which led Greendeer and his group right to the mound site. That
discovery made many question whether Enbridge had disturbed one
of the mounds there.
"I think it has been compromised slightly by work associated
with the Enbridge (pipeline)," Veit said. "The head of the bear
is right on the disturbed line of where the Enbridge pipeline goes
Despite the disturbance, Veit believes that most of the mound
remains relatively intact.
"I don't think that the mound is in perfect condition," Veit
said. "But aside from just a little bit on (one) end where I think
it was clipped, the rest of the mound is in pretty good condition."
To prevent further desecration, though, the site needs to be cataloged
by the Historical Society. For that to happen, the area must be
surveyed by professionals in the business. Such was the reason Veit
and his archaeological team undertook the tremendous task of surveying
the site in the first place.
Professor of UW-Madison's Civil Engineering Dept, Jim Scherz
shows the Survey Report that his team produced from surveying
"Having an accurate map is the first step to getting this site
cataloged," Veit said, "which means it would benefit from the protections
that all other burial sites in the state have. That is exactly the
hope of the private-property owners, (so the) land benefits from
the extra protection that would come along from it being a cataloged
site. And the paperwork for that has been initiated because of the
project that we're working on."
If the survey report proves accurate, then the site will be
added to the Historical Society's catalog seeing that the
landowners have already given consent. Once this occurs, Enbridge
will have to apply for a special permit to further disturb the site.
In other words, cataloging of the site could curtail the energy-transfer
company's current plans for expansion. Credit can be given to the
Ancient Earthworks Society of Wisconsin, which has taken great strides
in preserving the state's rich cultural resources for over 35 years
now. Without the organization, the state of Wisconsin might look
a lot different than it does today.