The city of Monona will celebrate its Native American heritage with the dedication of the Monona Mound on Saturday, Aug. 17.

Situated on the edge of Lake Monona near Cottage Grove Road, the Monona Mound was built by ancestors of the Ho-Chunk centuries ago. The city will dedicate a historical marker that commemorates the mound as well as those who have fought to protect it from encroaching development over the years.

Sponsored by the Monona Landmarks Commission, the dedication ceremony will include city officials, members of the Ho-Chunk Nation, archaeologists and local preservationists.

The Monona Mound is believed to have been built between 700-1100 A.D. The long tapering mound has been interpreted as an abstract turtle or water spirit, and some have speculated that, given its specific placement, the mound has astronomical significance.

The property on which the mound sits was long owned by the Reindahl family. Knute Reindahl (1857-1936), a violin maker who had been taught wood carving by Native Americans, was committed to protecting the mound. Over the years, the area around the mound became increasingly developed.

When the property passed out of the Reindahl family’s hands in the 1980s, concerned residents and Native Americans started the Monona Heritage Foundation to raise money to buy the property. Although their Save the Mound campaign in 1988 failed to generate enough money to buy the property, it succeeded in having the Monona Mound cataloged as a burial site under Wisconsin’s 1985 Burial Sites Preservation Act. The Monona Mound was the first Indian mound protected under that law.

The Monona Mound is one of the few remaining Indian mounds in Monona. Two are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the Outlet Mound at Midwood and Ridgewood avenues; and the Tompkins-Brindler Mound Group in Woodland Park. At least 234 mounds once existed on or near the shores of Lake Monona.

The dedication ceremony will be held on the upper floor of the Monona Public Library at 1:30 p.m. A short program on the history of the mound and the efforts to preserve it will be presented, along with refreshments after the ceremony. The event is free and open to the public.

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