The 10:30AM Ranger led Fire Point Hike at Effigy Mounds National Monument near Harper’s Ferry, Iowa was well worth the effort to leave our campsite early this morning. Located adjacent to Iowa’s section of the Great River Road overlooking the Mississippi River the park partners with a number of Native American tribes to preserve this sacred site in the northeast corner of the state at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Yellow Rivers. We had time to explore the museum at the Visitor Center before the walk. As it turned out we were the only ones to join Ranger Alex this morning which gave us and him a chance to expand upon some of major points of his talk. Atop a ridge in Iowa’s Driftless Area Native American ancients built mounds of various shapes and for multiple reasons. They buried their dead, studied the sun, stars, and seasons, and performed religious ceremonies. We were especially fascinated with the Marching Bear effigies that are lined up to point to the sunrise on the Cross Quarter Days, midway between the Equinox and Solstice. We were also thrilled to learn that the park will be rehabilitating the effigy mound area by removing several trees that have grown up on the mounds since white settlers arrived in the area and began preventing wild fires. The opportunity to hike with a ranger allowed us to fully appreciate our surroundings, to understand the ecology of the area, and to experience the sacredness of this location. Knowing that the ancients would come long distances for ceremonies here gave us the feeling of visiting a great cathedral.

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1 Comment

  1. Susan O'Gara

    How amazing. So much we still can discover about our past. Thank you for sharing!!!

    Reply

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