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(Many Paths)
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Ancient Earthworks Society Of Wisconsin Surveys Newly-Dscovered Group Of Effigy Mounds
by Tim Wohlers - Staff Writer, Hocak Worak
Education coordinator Chris Tyler describes the geography of area around Ceex Haci.

To receive full protection under the law, effigy mounds in Wisconsin must be cataloged by the State Historical Society. If they are left uncatalogued, the mounds remain subject to disturbance at the hands of commercial development. So in the hopes of getting the State Historical Society to catalog the site, the Ancient Earthworks Society of Wisconsin (AES) surveyed a recently discovered mound group near Nekoosa late last summer and throughout the fall.

"Maybe (in) a handful of instances over the course of a year or so do undiscovered mounds come to light," said AES archaeological consultant Chris Veit. "And that might be a mound or two at a time. But to find an entire mound group that was not on record at the Wisconsin Historical Society really provides us with an opportunity to do some excellent work."

The site contains over 16 features – including a square enclosure mound, a 250-ft. linear mound, several small bear-shaped mounds, and three circular mounds. It has been named Ceex Haci, which comes from the Ho-Chunk language and translates to "Marsh House." According to the Ancient Earthworks Society's education coordinator, Chris Tyler, the name refers to the landscape that surrounds the mounds.

"Along (one) side is a ridge of about 15 feet high," Tyler said. "And going down this ridge is marshland."

The mounds were discovered by environmental activist Bill Greendeer, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, during a month-long walk to raise awareness about an impending pipeline that threatens Wisconsin lands and waters. The walk followed the route of the Enbridge pipeline, which led Greendeer and his group right to the mound site. That discovery made many question whether Enbridge had disturbed one of the mounds there.

"I think it has been compromised slightly by work associated with the Enbridge (pipeline)," Veit said. "The head of the bear is right on the disturbed line of where the Enbridge pipeline goes through."

Despite the disturbance, Veit believes that most of the mound remains relatively intact.

"I don't think that the mound is in perfect condition," Veit said. "But aside from just a little bit on (one) end where I think it was clipped, the rest of the mound is in pretty good condition." To prevent further desecration, though, the site needs to be cataloged by the Historical Society. For that to happen, the area must be surveyed by professionals in the business. Such was the reason Veit and his archaeological team undertook the tremendous task of surveying the site in the first place.

Emeritus Professor of UW-Madison's Civil Engineering Dept, Jim Scherz shows the Survey Report that his team produced from surveying the site.

"Having an accurate map is the first step to getting this site cataloged," Veit said, "which means it would benefit from the protections that all other burial sites in the state have. That is exactly the hope of the private-property owners, (so the) land benefits from the extra protection that would come along from it being a cataloged site. And the paperwork for that has been initiated because of the project that we're working on."

If the survey report proves accurate, then the site will be added to the Historical Society's catalog – seeing that the landowners have already given consent. Once this occurs, Enbridge will have to apply for a special permit to further disturb the site.

In other words, cataloging of the site could curtail the energy-transfer company's current plans for expansion. Credit can be given to the Ancient Earthworks Society of Wisconsin, which has taken great strides in preserving the state's rich cultural resources for over 35 years now. Without the organization, the state of Wisconsin might look a lot different than it does today.

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