November is Native American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the rich history of our great nation, especially the Native American influences along the Great River Road. Here are a few stops along the Mississippi that honor the diverse cultures and influences of Native American people.
- Effigy Mounds National Monument (Iowa) – Located just four miles north of Marquette, Iowa these sacred mounds are associated with as many as 20 different American Indian tribes. There are more than 200 mounds surrounded by some of the most beautiful views of the Upper Mississippi River Valley you’ll ever experience.
- Toolesboro Indian Mounds & Museum (Iowa) – These Wapello, Iowa mounds claim to be the “best-preserved and accessible remains of an ancient culture flourishing from 200 B.C. to A.D. 300.” Stop in the visitor center to learn about the Hopewellian people who created these beautiful mounds.
- Black Hawk State Historic Site (Illinois) – This site in Rock Island was home to native peoples beginning 12,000 years ago up until about A.D. 250. This area was the land of the Sauk and Meskwaki people, then an amusement park, then a rail line. In the 1930s, veterans of the First World War transformed it into a historic site with trails, parking lots and shelters, planting trees and wildflowers along the way.
- Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site (Illinois) – Cahokia was once one of the greatest cities in the world, and was larger than London in A.D. 1250. These remains claim to be of “the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico.” It’s also home to Monks Mound, the largest man-made earthen mound in North America. The people of this area were builders, unsurpassed in their skills at the time.
- Wickliffe Mounds (Kentucky) – In Wickliffe, Kentucky you’ll find the site of a village once belonging to the Mississippian Native Americans. Beginning about 900 years ago, these peaceful farmers grew and prospered here until the village was mysteriously abandoned in the 1350s. Don’t miss the Archaeology Walking Trail tour or the hands-on activity stations.
- Trail of Tears State Park (Missouri) – This scenic state park is a sobering reminder of one of America’s saddest chapters, the Trail of Tears March, which forced tens of thousands of Cherokees from their homes. A stop here will help you to better understand the great sacrifice native people endured.