11 October: Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Growing up, this was Columbus Day. That has been changed officially this year to Indigenous Peoples’ Day which seems fitting. What we need right now is to learn what Indigenous People know far better than Europeans, to live with the earth. There are endless lessons about respect for nature, for water and for animals the people from whom we stole this land could teach. Madison has great examples to study. We have a tremendous cultural and historical resource.

Four Lakes of Madison Photo: http://www.terraprints.com modified by Yassie

The shores of the four (5) lake region; Lakes Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa and Kegonsa, where we live were filled with ceremonial effigy mounds. Madison land and water is sacred. The Indigenous People who lived here between the year 650 and 1200 sculpted, carved and dug the earth into shapes of animals, cones, and spirits. They are sacred, sites of ceremonies and celebrations of the earth and spirit world. A few are also burial sites.

Lake Wingra’s shores had a large number of mounds. It is a unique lake in that it has several springs. The mounds near them celebrate the water spirits. The shapes have elongated bodies and are categorized as panthers.

Mound Descriptions Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

I went walking Sunday at Governor Nelson State Park on the north shore of Lake Mendota. The path led us near a panther mound! The plants hide the form of the mound but the long tail of the spirit animal is visible, even after 1000 years.

Panther Mound Photo: Rebecca Cuningham
Panther Mound Highlighted Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Wisconsin is an area with many effigy mounds. Unfortunately, over the last 300 years 80% of them were paved over, cleared for buildings, or dug to utilize the gravel. I find that very distressing. Now there are signs posted to prevent people walking over them and strict laws against excavating or disturbing the contents. I hope we can learn respect for water and the earth that the few remaining mounds exemplify.

What is worth saving? How shall we go about it?

¡Olé! –Rebecca

Rebecca Cuningham

18 thoughts on “11 October: Celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day

  1. Excellent post, Rebecca! Fascinating information about those lakes and Indians mounds in your area. What a different country we would have today if we’d learned from the indigenous people instead of trying to eradicate them and force the survivors to learn European ways!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This name change seems timely. And of course we had and have so much to learn from those traditional cultures. I just hope that all they learnt has not been forgotten as their ways of life were removed from them over the centuries.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My work observes Indigenous People’s Day, and I’m actually used my vacation days to coincide with this holiday to take a week off from work: however, I’m putting it to good use, as I’m visiting areas in the US that are home to history of the indigenous people, particularly the Navajo. It’s been a fun and fascinating experience so far!

    Liked by 2 people

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