‘Honor the Mounds’ event set for Aug. 8

The 14th Annual Honor the Mounds gathering will be Saturday, Aug. 8, in Beattie Park in downtown Rockford. The Pipe Ceremony will be conducted by Terry

Standing Buffalo

Reynolds (Lakota), and the lighting of the Sacred Fire will be done by Dennis
White Bear

Dillard (Cherokee). The day will begin with an introduction by Mac Spotted Horse MacVenn (Iroquois/Eastern Delaware) at 10 a.m.

Scheduled events throughout the day include Native American drums and dancing, several speakers including Joseph Standing Bear of Midwest SOARRING, and a history of Beattie Park and the Mounds. Several exhibits and activities such as Birds of Prey by Raptor Rehab, flint knapping, story telling, and a children’s area will be on the grounds. The closing prayer will be at 4 p.m., followed by a 5 p.m. Honor Dinner for invited participants.

Short history of Beattie Park

The Beattie Park area was the homestead and land of the Beattie family from 1845-1921. It was a family home and site for Native American peoples to use as a site to practice rituals and ceremonial rites in what is now the area between the walk path across the park and the Rock River. It was left in a natural state and not developed.

When the sisters died in 1921, the land was generously donated to the Rockford Park District with the stipulation that the mounds and trees be preserved and it be kept a place of peace and solitude for relaxation, contemplation and meditation. This is a valuable lesson of stewardship of the land as the Beattie family desired as they honored the Native American culture. Estimated value of the land and residence at that time was about $60,000.

Archaeologists estimate the mounds to have been constructed between 600-800 A.D. (1,400-1,700 years ago). There are several unique qualities about this site of Native American mounds, used for thousands of years, and to this day, to honor harmony and balance between Mother Earth and nature.

Three particular types of mounds were constructed by the Native peoples of the
Woodlands Culture

: conical or round mounds, linear mounds (which were long and straight), and effigy mounds (depicting the form of an animal). These types of
Woodland Culture

mounds are found in Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota, eastern Iowa, Michigan, and the top two tiers of counties in Illinois.

The mounds site at Beattie Park is the only site in Illinois where all three styles of mounds can be seen at one location. There were 183 scientifically recorded mounds in Winnebago County, with estimates that there may have been as many as 2,000 mounds in existence at the turn of the century in 1800. Of the mounds recorded, 126 were conical or linear-type, and 26 were effigy-style mounds. Today, there are only 15 conical, six linear and three effigy mounds still in existence.

Of the conical mounds excavated, 99 percent have been burial mounds. Of the linear mounds excavated, almost none has contained any artifact or clue as to why it was built other than the fact that most linear mounds point north/south or east/west. Of the effigy mounds excavated, about 50 percent have contained artifacts or were burial mounds.

The construction of the mounds was accomplished basketful by basketful of earth, which was not gathered from the area where the mounds were constructed. This suggests the earth was transported to the mound sites over a period of years to honor or celebrate an individual, event or totem in a spiritual manner.

Everyone is invited to come out and enjoy a day of family-friendly activities and learn about the Native American contribution to our community’s history.

from the July 29-August 4, 2009, issue

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