Early Cultures: Pre-European Peoples of Wisconsin
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Studying Burial Mounds
Woodland Mound Map
Early Euro-Americans were aware of the highly visible mounds on the landscape. Some people did not believe that the Native Americans in the area were capable of building the mounds. Some people thought there was a great Moundbuilder Race or even that Egyptians built the mounds. Actual study of the mounds began in the middle of the 1800's. Early archaeologists and antiquarians mapped, recorded and even excavated some of the mounds. They discovered that the Native Americans were the makers of these mounds. Early excavation techniques, however, were more primitive than today. Some people who excavated the mounds were interested in finding the items in the burials, not in learning about the people who made the mounds. In some cases, little regard was given to the feelings of the Native Americans.

Over eighty percent of the mounds that once were known to exist in Wisconsin have now been destroyed. Some have been plowed down, others destroyed during urban expansion. Today, all mounds and burials in Wisconsin are protected by law. Now archaeologists try to learn about the Woodland people by excavating their camps and villages rather than their burials.

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