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Indiana University Repatriates 700+ Native American Remains To Angel Mounds

Angel Mounds

One of 11 mounds, or truncated pyramids, at Angel Mounds in Evansville. Mississippian people viewed the mounds as status symbols and lived on top of them. (Joey Mendolia, WFIU/WTIU News)

Indiana University has returned the remains of more than 700 Native Americans to Angel Mounds, in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990.  

The move on a single day in March followed years of coordination between IU’s Glenn A. Black Laboratory of Archaeology, various tribal nations, and Angel Mounds. 

“The tribes involved were the Miami, the Shawnee, the eastern band of the Shawnee, and the Quapaw,” said Mike Linderman, western regional director for state historic sites. “The Quapaw were all over southern Illinois, which is as close to Aas you can possibly get.”

Angel Mounds is a state historic site located on the Vanderburgh-Warrick county line near Evansville. The 600-acre property was a regional trading hub along the Ohio River until 1450.

Native Americans living in the area are classified as Mississippians, which is a culture. 

Eleven mounds, or truncated pyramids, were contained within the walls of the civilization. They were believed to have been status symbols on which people lived. The bigger the mound, the more important you were.

Similar structures can be found as far north as Wisconsin and as far south as Fort Walton, Fla.

Glenn Black discovered the remains during digs at the site between 1939 and 1964, but modern techniques have changed the way the mounds are studied.

“You would never see an excavation like happened in the late ‘30s and ‘40s with the WPA (Works Progress Administration),” Linderman said. “Today, excavation units are small, they’re able to be maintained.”

Linderman said the recent research used non-invasive techniques.

“The science has advanced so much since when Glenn Black was doing excavations here up until the ‘60s,” Linderman said. “We’re pulling things off the site now that he never would have even dreamed of as far as like pollen content in the soil.” 

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