Effigy Mounds
Administrative History
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Chapter Nine:

Reservation custodian Frank Pinkley set the precedent for interpretive exhibits [1] relating to prehistoric cultures when he displayed a group of artifacts from archeological excavations at the Special Reservation for the Protection of Casa Grande Ruins, now known as Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. [2] The concept of using park resources as education al tools is almost as old as the parks themselves, and became official policy of the National Park Service shortly after the agency's birth. According to a 1918 letter from Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane to the Service's first director, Stephen T. Mather, Lane believed the educational use of park resources was equally important as their recreational use, and proposed that all units of the Park System include museums and interpretive exhibits. The goal was reiterated in Director Mather's 1920 annual report. Museums, exhibits, publications and educational programs became the staples of interpretation in the National Park Service. [3]

At Effigy Mounds National Monument, interpretation of the resources and the Service's efforts to understand and to protect them began the day the first superintendent, Joe Kennedy, arrived at the confluence of the Yellow and Mississippi rivers. As discussed in Chapter 5, Kennedy spent much of his first year acquainting Midwesterners with the National Park Service and its purposes at Effigy Mounds National Monument. Kennedy wrote several articles for publication in area newspapers, and spoke before community groups throughout the northern Mississippi valley. [4] As the Service's sole representative for much of the fist year of the monument's existence, Kennedy also personally greeted most of the several hundred visitors to Effigy Mounds in 1949 and 1950. [5]

To provide visitor access to some of the mounds, Kennedy had laborers clear a rough path to Fire Point during the monument's first summer, and he prepared a nature trail guide to help visitors identify flora along the trail. [6] The Service improved the trail and erected signs directing visitors toward Fire Point in 1951. [7]

Archeologist Wil Logan joined the monument staff in June of that year. Among Logan's first contributions was the replacement of the nature brochure with small signs along the trail which identified the various species of flora. Logan personally constructed the tempered masonite signs, painted them with house paint, lettered them with India ink, and applied several coats of varnish. Laborers erected them on small posts along the trail in April 1952. [8] Later in 1952, the monument staff developed a trailside exhibit plan calling for thirteen interpretive and directional signs. These signs oriented visitors to the national monument's resources and facilities in the north unit, explained the different types of mounds, and instructed hikers concerning trail etiquette and safety. [9] The National Park Service Museum Laboratory fabricated these three- by four-foot signs of aluminum in 1952 at a cost of $50 apiece. [10] A third set of north unit trail signs reminding visitors to "Please Stay on the Trail," "Leave the Woods Unspoiled," and "Leave Wild Flowers, Leaves, Birds, Animals, and Mounds Unharmed" reminded visitors to keep safe and neat and to protect the resources. [11] Gichner, Inc., of Washington, D.C., constructed these signs for $200 each. [12] Whether "homemade" or professionally fabricated, the monument had continual problems with the signs' durability. The masonite and varnish cracked and peeled from exposure to the sun; the painted lettering faded to illegibility. The monument spent considerable time and money repairing or replacing the wayside exhibits. [13]

Most visitor contact in the early years took place at an old chicken coop converted for that purpose. In keeping with the tradition originated by Custodian Pinkley at Casa Grande Ruins, the staff at Effigy Mounds National Monument hoped to exhibit artifacts relating to the Mound Builders and their culture. Ellison Orr gave some of his papers, books, and specimens to the monument in 1950. He also donated a portion of his collection to the public school in his home town of Waukon, Iowa. Waukon Public School, in turn, donated their Orr holdings to the national monument in 1958. [14] The monument supplemented some of Orr's artifacts with specimens uncovered by Paul Beaubien during his 1950 and 1953 excavations at the monument. Unfortunately, the plan to place exhibits in the makeshift visitor contact station was delayed when the Park Service was forced to refuse delivery on the museum cabinets, which arrived with scratched finishes, damaged doors and locks, and ill-fitting drawers. The shipper, H & W Motor Express, blamed manufacturer Parker Steel Products, Inc., for not marking the crates with appropriate handling information such as "This side up" arrows. Rather than send the cabinets back to the manufacturer in Brooklyn, however, H & W Motors offered to accomplish the repairs if Parker Steel provided the materials. Although the manufacturer and shipper agreed on this arrangement in November of 1953, the national monument did not receive the cabinets until four months later. [15] In 1957, the monument staff built a five- by two-foot glass-topped case to display additional artifacts. [16]

Superintendent Walter Berrett was extremely frustrated by the condition of the monument's visitor contact station, not only because of its shabby appearance, but also because it afforded inadequate protection of the museum artifacts. In January 1955, Berrett informed Regional Director Howard Baker that he needed proper storage for the museum as soon as possible. At the time, he was keeping part of the Orr collection in the basement of his residence; the remainder was in the seriously deteriorated contact station. Moisture and rodents were a problem in both locations. Neither offered the collection any protection from fire. By October 1956, the former chicken coop's condition was so deteriorated Berrett complained to Regional Director Howard Baker, "No further alterations can be made to this structure, as the framing is so rotten that there are few places which still hold a nail. An unusually heavy snow or high wind may cause its collapse." [17]

Fortunately, these complaints surfaced while Mission 66 planning for Effigy Mounds National Monument's new visitor center was already underway. A museum exhibit team visited the national monument from February 4—11, 1958, to work on an exhibit plan for the visitor center. The team, which included Archeologist Paul Beaubien, also recorded and cataloged the 170 objects uncovered during Logan's tenure at the national monument, the artifacts uncovered by Beaubien at Effigy Mounds, and Ellison Orr's vertebrate specimens, which the Waukon Public School donated to the national monument in 1952. [18] Howard Baker rejected a proposal to include a dark room in the visitor center, citing the availability of photo finishing services in the area. Contrary to a recommendation in the recently completed master plan, Baker directed that no further excavations be accomplished in search of materials for museum exhibits. Previous National Park Service excavations had yielded few artifacts, and Baker believed further intervention in the mounds could not be justified. [19] Baker approved the team's exhibit plan in February 1959. [20]

Staff Archeologist Earl Ingmanson visited the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin State Historical Society Museum in Madison and the Milwaukee Public Museum to see if those agencies had photographs, slides, or other materials which could be used or copied for the Effigy Mounds National Monument museum. [21]

Fabrication of the museum panels proved troublesome for Effigy Mounds National Monument. There were delays as other parks' projects received higher priorities at the museum laboratory. When the Effigy Mounds exhibits finally reached the top of the list, Baker learned the cost had risen from the $400 per panel estimated earlier to $1100 each! Certain there was a mistake, the Regional Director contacted the chief of the museum lab, who assured him there was no error, and suggested some panels be eliminated or changed to save money. Baker contacted Director Conrad Wirth expressing his surprise and disappointment at the seemingly exorbitant revised cost estimate. [22]

The National Park Service Museum Branch installed the museum exhibits in September 1960. [23] A series of exhibit panels told about the mound groups, the distribution of mounds throughout the eastern United States, the three separate Mound Builder cultures, and the distribution of materials in the mounds. [24] In addition, the museum featured traditional glass cases fabricated by Michels Art Bronze Company of Covington, Kentucky. [25] In the cases, the Park Service displayed artifacts from early NPS archeological excavations of several mounds and objects from the Orr collection, including obsidian spear points, copper beads and a breastplate, a bear tooth, pottery vessels, vertebrate specimens, arrowheads, a stuffed raccoon, and a beaver pelt borrowed from Yellowstone National Park. [26]

In the beginning, the museum cases also contained several bundle burials and a human skull exhumed from a mound south of the monument's South Unit boundary. [27] Until the early 1970s, exhibition of human remains excavated from archeological sites was common practice in museums throughout the United States. That practice came into question in March 1971, [28] when NPS Chief of Museums Russell J. Hendrickson visited Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, and saw a display in which mummified bodies were presented as curiosities. Hendrickson was displeased with the distasteful exhibit, and he was appalled when he found the park selling a gag post card featuring a mummy. In an angry memorandum, Hendrickson informed Southwest Regional Director Frank F. Kowski what he had seen and requested that Kowski do something about the inappropriate exhibit. [29]

Figure 20: Some visitors enjoy the Mission 66 museum exhibits. Photograph by Harry E. Boll of the Davenport, Iowa, Times Democrat, July 4, 1965. Negative #3, Effigy Mounds National Monument.

Kowski responded immediately. On March 22, 1971, he directed all parks in the Southwest Region to review displays of human remains and demanded that they be "rearranged, redone, or just plain removed permanently." [30] When some superintendents requested clarification concerning what constituted an "inappropriate" exhibit, Kowski replied that any display of human skeletal remains was unacceptable. [31]

Coincidentally, the Western Service Center's Chief of Archeological Investigations, Paul J.F. Schumacher, visited Effigy Mounds National Monument in May 1971 to oversee archeological work in progress there. Upon his return to the Service Center, Schumacher noted that the monument's museum exhibit featuring the skeletal remains might be offensive to modern Native American residents of the Mississippi valley. Schumacher recommended the skull and bundles be removed and replaced with cast replicas. [32] Acting Midwest Regional Director Phillip R. Iversen directed the Museums Branch to change the Effigy Mounds exhibits as recommended in Glenn Hendrix' memorandum. [33] The staff removed the skeletal remains from the Effigy Mounds National Monument museum at that time, but decided to leave the space empty rather than install cast reproductions. The monument staff sent the bundle burials and skull to the National Park Service's Midwest Archeological Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, where they remain in storage. [34]

The National Park Service upgraded the museum exhibits in 1988. Focusing on the continuing cycle of natural events, the new exhibits portray the Mound Builders in synchronization with natural rhythms such as the change of seasons. The exhibited artifacts greatly increased in number, and are displayed in chronological order and in association with the Red Ochre, Effigy Mound Builder, and Hopewellian cultures. Archeological specimens were supplemented with mounted eagles, hawks, and songbirds as well as various specimens of flora. [35]

In addition to the museum exhibits, the National Park Service uses an educational film, formal tours, and small group programs and individualized interactions with monument employees to inform the public about the mounds, the monument, and the Service.

In 1962, the National Park Service began sponsoring a winter film festival at the national monument. Noting the poor visitation during the winter months and the lack of recreational activities available to area residents, Superintendent Daniel J. Tobin, Jr., decided to show films in the monument's visitor center. The experiment proved successful, and the practice continues to the present. For ten weekends beginning in January, the Service shows films on conservation, travel, environmental education, archeology, Native Americans, and other topics at no charge. Special occasions such as the bicentennial of the constitution and black history month have also been featured in movies. The films are obtained from other National Park Service areas and other conservation agencies, universities, and commercial film distributors; the Service uses donated funds or those acquired from Eastern National Park & Monument Association to cover the cost of film rentals. In recent years, Superintendent Thomas Munson invited area schools to display students' art work in conjunction with the film festival, thus providing the students a broader audience for their work. [36] The duration of this program is a clear testament to its popularity.

There are also several books on related subjects available for sale under the auspices of the Eastern National Park & Monument Association. Park Service personnel also offer offsite programs upon request. Beginning in 1987, the National Park Service instituted visitor use fees for most parks in the system; proceeds from the fee collection help defray the cost of park maintenance, and research, preservation, and interpretation of cultural and natural resources. Fees are waived for large gatherings such as school groups; other visitors pay $1.00 per visit. [37]

Figure 21: One of the early exhibits at Effigy Mounds National Monument contained human skeletal remains. The human remains were removed from public view in 1971. Photograph by Harry E. Boll, Davenport, Iowa, Times Dependent, July 4, 1965. Negative #4, Effigy Mounds National Monument. (Web Edition Note: Original image modified to remove funery object).

The fourteen—minute film, "The Earthshapers," provides general orientation to the Mound Builders culture and to the national monument. The film features original artwork created by George Armstrong of Wilmette, Illinois. "The Earthshapers," filmed in 1979 and first shown in 1980, replaced a slide-tape program developed during the Mission 66 program. [38]

The best appreciation of the cultural and natural resources of Effigy Mounds National Monument results from interaction with the resources themselves. Some visitors choose to hike the trails themselves; others prefer ranger-guided expeditions. The resources of Effigy Mounds National Monument appeal to visitors of all ages, but school groups are among the monument's most frequent guests. Since the late 1960s, the National Park Service has encouraged area schools to schedule formal tours with monument staff. The most popular of these includes a brief orientation to the national monument, viewing of "The Earthshapers," and a Ranger—led hiking tour to the Fire Point mounds. Along the way, the students learn not only about the burial mounds and the Mound Builders' cultures, but also about flora and fauna in the area, geological formations, and the interaction between humans and the environment. [39] Similar tours are available to the general public during the summer, or by special arrangement when staff is available. [40]

Ranger-guided tours of the Fire Point trail provide visitors with a fuller discussion of the area's cultural and natural resources than is available via the wayside exhibits. The tours explain the significance of the mounds and the relationship between the mounds and the natural environment. [41] The Fire Point trail tours begin at the visitor center, follow the trail to the Little Bear mound and on to Fire Point. The formal tour ends at Fire Point, and visitors have the option of returning to the visitor center [42] or continuing to follow the trail unaccompanied by a park ranger. Ranger—guided tours to Fire Point are offered four times daily during the summer season (Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend), with additional tours for prescheduled groups year—round. [43]

family hiking
Figure 22: A family hiking the north unit trail. Photographer and date unknown. Negative #553, Effigy Mounds National Monument.

Visitors unable to join a ranger-guided Fire Point tour due to time constraints or physical restrictions can participate in interpretive talks conducted just outside the visitor center at the Three Mounds site. Two of the three mounds have been excavated, so much information about them is available. Programs conducted at Three Mounds focus on the mounds, and contain less information about the natural environment than does the Fire Point tour. The Three Mounds programs are not scheduled, but frequently occur whenever a group of ten or more visitors assemble and a Fire Point tour is not planned. [44]

The National Park Service initiated a special interpretive emphasis on environmental education, the National Environmental Education Development (NEED) program, in the late 1960s. In cooperation with the Education Consulting Service's director, Mario Memesini, the NPS developed a program to encourage environmental awareness in schools and in park interpretive programs. [45] Park Service personnel worked with teachers to develop classroom materials to show patterns and relationships in math, history, geology, and biology classes. [46] The materials were developed for use in the schools, and many parks established environmental study areas where students could observe first-hand what they had learned in the classroom. [47]

At Effigy Mounds National Monument, NEED neatly dove tailed with existing interpretive programs. The staff at Effigy Mounds had been incorporating environmental education into the interpretive programs throughout most of the monument's history. In 1972, Ranger-Historian Edgar W. Dodd wrote an Environmental Study Area Teacher's Guide for use by area schools under the NEED program. [48] Teachers used the guide and other NEED materials for a few years, but generally preferred the holistic educational programs the monument staff had used prior to the initiation of the national program. In the mid-1970s, Effigy Mounds National Monument's staff abandoned the NEED materials and returned to the interpretive programs their visitors preferred. [49]

In 1975, five rangers developed special evening programs to attract local residents and campers at nearby Wyalusing State Park, Wisconsin, and Pike's Peak State Park, Iowa. The programs drew little public response, however, and were discontinued the same year. Saturday morning birdwalks during the summer months proved more successful; rangers led visitors on guided tours and helped them identify birds beginning in 1983. Decreases in funding and staff levels forced the monument to abandon the ranger—led birdwalks in 1986. [50]

The staff at Effigy Mound National Monument extends its educational programs beyond its boundaries. As discussed in Chapter 6, Joe Kennedy began this tradition shortly after reporting for duty as the monument's first superintendent, and subsequent superintendents, archeologists, and rangers continued to provide information concerning the mounds, the Mound Builders, the environment, and the National Park Service to community groups. In the 1980s, offsite programs were limited to a 25-mile radius of the monument due to limited staff availability. The Service has never charged a fee for its offsite programs. Copies of the film, "The Earthshapers," has been made available without charge since 1980. [51]

Generally, the types of educational programs used at Effigy Mounds National Monument were well-established during the first few years following the monument's proclamation. Interpretive trailside signs, museum exhibits, formal programs and tours, and individualized discussions with monument personnel enlightened visitors about the mounds and the Mound Builders' cultures, the area's natural resources, and the Park Service's efforts to understand and protect the cultural and natural environment were all standard during the 1950s. Special school—group tours, the educational film, and improved museum facilities were developed during the following decade; the quality of the museum exhibits was improved again in the 1980s. The Service continues to improve the quality of information as more data on the cultural and natural resources at Effigy Mounds National Monument becomes available.

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Last Updated: 08-Oct-2003