Menominee Burial Mounds

Archeological site on the Manistee River - Historical Society

 

Along the Menominee River, in the western upper peninsula, can be found one of a kind, prehistoric, archeological treasures. For more than 3 miles along the river bank are hundreds ancient burial mounds, ceremonial dance circles and extremely rare, raised garden beds. The mounds are graves and range in size from small loaf shaped mounds to quite large hill mounds, some of which are as big as a small shed. The dance circles are sacred constructions where ceremonies were held. The garden beds are raised and may date from as far back as 250 AD. They are important because they are the northernmost occurrence of such prehistoric agricultural constructions and are in relatively good condition. The burial mounds are the easiest find and are visible from the road.

menominee burial mound

This area is the ancestral home of the Menominee. The mouth of the river is the location of the creation of the Menominee Tribe. It is at that spot that the Creator transformed the bear, a supernatural being who came from underground, into the 1st Menominee human being. They and other tribes inhabited the region for centuries harvesting wild rice and many kinds of fish, including sturgeon. The mounds and other constructions are the evidence of their long stewardship of the river and environs. Such a large concentration of native American constructions is almost unknown in Michigan. Ordinarily, this would all have been destroyed as lumbermen, miners and farmers came into the area and settled. The difference here is that, though the area was lumbered off, it was never developed for agricultural purposes. In all of Michigan, nothing destroyed more ancient sites than the plow.