Indian Mounds - Encyclopedia of Arkansas (2023)

Indian mounds were constructed by intentionally dumping earth, stones, or other materials (such as ash, shells, and the remains of burned buildings) onto natural ground surfaces. In Arkansas and elsewhere in eastern North Americanative americansthey built mounds for ritual or funerary purposes, or as sites for important structures, but mound building ceased soon after European contact due to changes in religious and cultural practices.the people of Mississippiin eastern Arkansas, they used foothills whenspanish explorersarrived in 1541, and the Caddo of the Red River Valley was still using mounds in the winter of 1691-1692 when explorers from Mexico visited them. Most of the thousands of mounds built in Arkansas have been destroyed by modern development and vandalism, but a few hundred remain. Today they are considered important religious and cultural monuments.

The oldest mound in Arkansas, believed to be 3,500 years old, is located in the southern part of the state. This newly recognized mound is one of thearchaic tradition, a hunting-and-gathering way of life that has existed in North America for thousands of years. Archean mounds are uncommon and are known in small numbers in the lower Mississippi Valley. Mound Archean Arkansas, known as Lake Enterprise Mound, is similar to others in northeastern Louisiana, but its function is still largely unknown. At one point, only a single archaic mound was erected at one point. However, groups of mounds have also been found forming a rough enclosure. Roughly dome-shaped, the mounds appear to contain only an earthen fill. Their primary purpose may have been as symbolic representations of archaic religious beliefs and as places where rituals and other events important to the surrounding population were performed. Hills also serve as physical symbols for claims made by a group of people to control a particular area or landscape.

Because archaic peoples did not live in large or permanent communities, workers from scattered family camps and small settlements regularly came together to build and care for mounds. These projects were likely overseen by local people with religious experience or personal prestige and would require little investment of time or labor on the part of workers.

The next distinct expression of mound building in Arkansas occurred during theWaldzeit, from around 600 B.C. until about AD 1000. C., a time when native peoples began experimenting with small-scale horticulture to complement hunting and gathering. The forest's starting and middle mounds were typically used as cemeteries. Small dome-shaped mounds in the Red River Valley of southwestern Arkansas and adjacent parts of Louisiana and Texas contained repositories of human remains, usually cremated, and small souvenirs or offerings. Some mounds were built over a crematory deposit; Thereafter, the cremated remains were periodically buried or placed on top of the mound, with new soil added to rehabilitate the surface and bury the deposits. In southwestern Arkansas, these mounds were built by the Fourche Maline people, who inhabited the local forest. Morro at the Helena intersection inPhillips Countyit contained the remains of various people buried in log-adorned tombs some 2,000 years ago, along with a variety of personal and ritual objects. This practice is related to the Hopewell culture of the Midwest and the Marksville culture of the lower Mississippi and Red River valleys.

Not all forest dwellers built or were buried in mounds. The religious beliefs behind the tombs and the social rules that dictated who was buried in a mound and who was not are still largely unknown. As many mounds were destroyed without investigation, some information about these cultures has already been lost. However, the mounds served as symbols of a group's shared heritage and as monuments to a community's claim to a territory or landscape.

(Video) Toltec Mounds, Arkansas: Secrets of Native American Earthworks

Not all mounds in Woodland were built for burials. Some people built flat earth platforms which were used for public activities of various kinds. Religious and political centers serving scattered regional populations had both types of mounds.toltec hills(Lonoke County), the center ofPlum Bayou-Kulturin central Arkansas, it is the largest site of its kind. At least nineteen mounds have been built in its 400-year history. The low platforms were places for public festivals and other rituals; At least one mound served as a burial ground, while others served as yet unknown purposes. The mounds were regularly renovated or extended and eventually fell into disrepair.

The groups in Woodland Hills were not villages; People regularly gathered at centers for rituals and social activities and then dispersed to family camps and other small settlements, perhaps leaving some caretakers as permanent residents. Arkansas Native Americans didn't start living in compact villages until they developed an agricultural lifestyle based on corn (maize), squash, and other domesticated crops, and with these changes in lifestyle came changes in construction and use.

These changes took place between the years 900 and 1100 AD. C. and begin with the so-called Mississippi tradition, characterized by elaborate societies with sedentary farming communities, large populations, social hierarchies, and a rich material culture. The mounds were typically flat-topped earthen pyramids that served as platforms for religious buildings, residences for leaders and priests, and places for public rituals. In some societies, honorable people were also buried in mounds. Some hills in Arkansas were surrounded by compact towns, likeparking placeEmcross county. Other groups of hills, as wellprehistoric caddoThe hilltop sites of southwestern Arkansas were centers for scattered populations that lived in nearby villages and small towns.

The platform mounds were renewed periodically. Buildings were replaced, new ground was used to enlarge and remodel the mound, and the mound's function may also have changed. Some centers had multiple mounds and were used for centuries. However, these centers were not just groups of mounds. The location and arrangement of the mounds, as well as the processes used to build and renovate them, were all connected to the wider realm of religious belief and ritual. Foothills and foothill centers embody the core beliefs and values ​​of Mississippi cultures and serve as centers for Mississippi life.

Variations of Mississippi culture were followed by people elsewhere in Arkansas during this period. In southwestern Arkansas, the caddo tradition was a variant. Flat mounds of earth were used as platforms for religious buildings. From time to time, buildings were burned or demolished, and mounds widened, burying the ruins of older buildings. Caddo mound centers typically had a flat mound and at least one vaulted mound built over the ruins of a specific building that may have been the residence of the community leader or the site of special rituals. The cone-shaped mounds were also sometimes used as burial grounds for important families, although only a small number of caddos were actually buried in mounds. Few people lived in the center of the Caddo Hills. Most lived on family farms and small towns across the country, gathering in the centers only for important events. Mounds were also built in the Arkansas Ozarks and the Arkansas River Valley. Enclosing the ruins of ritual buildings, these flat-topped pyramids also served as local political and religious centers for the scattered farming population.

(Video) The Toltec Mounds Scott Arkansas Ancient Native American Site

Hundreds of mounds have been lost to erosion, development and vandalism over the past century, but many hundreds remain. Every hill in Arkansas today is an important symbol of Arkansas Indian history.

For more information:
Anderson, David G. and Kenneth E. Sassamon. "Early and Middle Holocene, 9500-3750 BC". InNorth American Indian Handbook. vol. 14,southeast, edited by William C. Sturtevant and Raymond D. Fogelson. Washington DC : Smithsonian Institution .

BowneEric E.Hills of the Old South: A Guide to Mississippi Chiefs. Atenas: University of Georgia Press, 2013.

Cox, Carolyn Stratton. "Luda, Kent and the Indian Hills".Ouachita County History Quarterly51 (Spring 2020): 10–17.

Früh, Ann M. "Prehistory of the Western Interior after 500 BC." InNorth American Indian Handbook. vol. 14,southeast, edited by William C. Sturtevant and Raymond D. Fogelson. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2004

(Video) Arkansas's First People

Ford, James A. "Hopewell Culture Burial Mounds perto de Helena, Arkansas."anthropological treatisesNo. 50 (1). New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1963.

Higgins, Donald P. Jr. and Marvin D. Jeter. "A Prescient 1880 Study of 'The Mound Builders of Arkansas'."arkansas archaeologist50 (2010): 1–24.

Krause, Richard A. "Observations on the Excavation of a Mississippi Mound."Hills, embankments and ceremonialism, editado por Robert C. Mainfort e Richard Walling. Research Series No. 46. Fayetteville: Arkansas Archaeological Survey, 1996.

Lanford, George. "Old Neighbors: Hills on Black and White Rivers".History of Independence County61 (January 2020): 3–28.

Morse, Phyllis A.Parkin: The 1978-1979 Archaeological Survey at a Site in Cross County, Arkansas. Research Series No. 13. Fayetteville: Arkansas Archaeological Survey, 1981.

(Video) The Forgotten Huge Step-Pyramid Of Arkansas

RollingsonMarta A.The Toltec Hills and the Plum Bayou Culture: Excavations of Mount D. Série Investigativa No. 54. Fayetteville: Arkansas Archaeological Survey, 1998

——— "Prehistory of the Central Mississippi Valley and the Ozarks after 500 BC". InNorth American Indian Handbook. vol. 14,southeast, edited by William C. Sturtevant and Raymond D. Fogelson. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2004

Sabo, George III e Ann M. Early.Human Adaptation in the Ozark and Ouachita Mountains. Research Series 31. Arkansas Archaeological Service, Fayetteville. nineteen ninety

Sassamon, Kenneth E. and David G. Anderson. "Late Holocene, 3750 to 650 BC.". ptNorth American Indian Handbook. vol. 14,southeast, edited by William C. Sturtevant and Raymond D. Fogelson. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 2004

Schambach, Frank F. "Hills, Cliffs, and Ceremonialism in the Southern Trans-Mississippi."Hills, escarpments and ceremonialism in the Center-South, editado por Robert C. Mainfort e Richard Walling. Research Series No. 46. Fayetteville: Arkansas Archaeological Survey, 1996.

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Ann me tempera
Arkansas Archaeological Survey


What are the 3 types of mounds? ›

Native Americans built a variety of mounds, including flat-topped pyramids or cones known as platform mounds, rounded cones, and ridge or loaf-shaped mounds.

What are the 3 main Native American tribes Indigenous to Arkansas? ›

The Caddo Nation, Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma and the Osage Nation lived in Arkansas prior to their forced removal by the United States government.

What are the 4 main Native American tribes in Arkansas? ›

History of the Tribes

Those most prevalent in Arkansas included the Caddos, Quapaws, Osages and later, Cherokees, as they traveled through Arkansas on the Trail of Tears to present day Oklahoma.

What is the most famous Indian burial mound in the United States? ›

Cahokia Mounds is the best-known mound site in the United States and among the most impressive. Cahokia is named for the tribe that lived near the site in the 19th century CE, the original name is unknown, but between c. 600-c.

What state has the most Indian mounds? ›

Prior to European colonization, there may have been more than 15,000 mounds in the state; perhaps 4,000 of these remain today. Wisconsin is the center of effigy mound culture. Courtesy National Park Service. The earliest mounds, dating to approximately 2,500 years ago, were round or “conical” in shape.

What is inside an Indian mound? ›

The Indigenous burial ground that is currently called “Indian Mounds Regional Park” has been a sacred burial ground for over a thousand years. It is significant to living Indigenous Peoples as a cemetery where their ancestors are buried. It is a place of reverence, remembrance, respect, and prayer.


1. Spiro Mounds pt.1 | Ancient Giants & the Shamanic Elite Along the Arkansas River | Megalithomania
2. Inside the Secret Mounds Of Pre-Historic America | Ancient Mysteries (S3) | Full Episode | History
3. Nodena Site, Arkansas ~ Lost, The Mayans & Orion
4. Exploring Inside Indian Burial Mound! You Won't Believe What I Found!
5. History of Arkansas
6. Sandwiching in History: Plum Bayou Mounds Archeological State Park (formerly known as Toltec Mounds)
(Arkansas Preservation)


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