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Why You Should Visit Angel Mounds Historic Site in Indiana

Mounds, Prehistory

Southwestern Indiana may be known for Amish country, The Evansville Ball Park, and local College towns, but before it was home to all of those things, it was inhabited by the Native Americans, and today you can see proof of this by traveling to Angel Mounds. Angel Mounds is an amazement to behold, a historic location once home to the Middle Mississippian Indians who dwelled along the Ohio River. Every year, Angel Mounds is host to a handful of concerts, each to benefit the grounds and educate visitors about the importance of this once neglected historic landmark.

Angel Mounds is a 603 acre wildlife preserve. Around 1100 to 1450 AD, it was inhabited by Mississippian Indians who built a stockade there. Because the area was located along the Ohio river, the land was fertile and lush: a great location for farming and hunting. It was there the Mississippian Indians decided to build a settlement, a chiefdom, which meant it was an economical hub for the region. There at Angel Mounds, religious ceremonies, political gatherings (war parties and the like), trading, and other activities would take place.

The reason for the mounds was a symbolic and religious one. Temple mounds and burial mounds were both used in Mississippian culture. At around 1400 AD, the Mississippian Indians began leaving their home and quickly vacated the town. It took less than fifty years for the last inhabitant to vacate the once pinnacle town. No one knows why, and there is so much speculation that facts have never surfaced, even after excavating selected mounds.

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The mounds are called Angel Mounds because a man with the last name of Angel put his farm there. In 1938, the Angel family sold their land to the Indiana Historical Society with money donated by Eli Lilly foundation. The mounds have been studied, and today the state of Indiana owns the land, protecting and managing it so that it can be studied and visited for years to come. A Native American Museum has been built on the site to enrich the learning experience of visiting, and an annual hands-on Native American day camp is held for families and children to gain a better understanding of Indiana Prehistory.

There are several types of educational programs available to those who are curious about the site, including an exclusive tour of special flora and Fauna living in the Ashumbala State Nature Preserve. They also offer evening rentals of the classroom, auditorium or multipurpose room of the Interpretive center.

Every September, Angel Mounds hosts Native American Days with a Native American market, traditional Aztec Fire Dancers (Tloke Nahuake), drum demonstrators, and a food booth. Viewing of Angel Mounds is $2 a person, not including a $10 per car parking donation to see this exciting event.

Another annual gathering at Angel Mounds is the Voices of the East. There, you can view what it was like to live as a Native American in the 1700’s. Storytelling, Cherokee Stomp Dancing, music using Native American instruments like the flute, body art, Delaware singing, quill work, Native American handicrafts and a look at the various types of Native American dwellings are all part of this exciting weekend. This celebration usually runs at $5 per vehicle (parking donation) and $2 a person for presentation.

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Angel Mounds is located south of I-64 on exit 5. Signs are available to show you where to drive. (812) 853-3956. Volunteers are always welcome.

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