Join the Ho-Chunk Nation in Madison, Wisconsin for a rally to ask our elected officials to protect these historically significant sites. The rally will take place on the East side of the Capitol at 1 pm on January 12, 2016.
Transportation may be provided from designated areas across Wisconsin, as well as Saint Paul, MN and Chicago, IL.
The effigy mounds found in Wisconsin are among the only earthen forms constructed by prehistoric American Indians. Wisconsin law has only recently protected these culturally significant features. These shapes often take forms of clan symbols, humans, or simple forms. These mounds were used for burial, ceremonial, or utilitarian purposes. The Ho-Chunk people are believed to be descendants of the Mound Builder people. The tribe views the mounds as sacred sites that should not be disturbed.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill establishes a procedure for owners of burial sites that are currently cataloged by the director of the State Historical Society and owners of certain land contiguous to cataloged burial sites to challenge the existence of human remains in the burial site. Current law requires the director to identify and record in a catalog burial sites and, for land not platted for use as a cemetery, sufficient contiguous land necessary to protect burial sites from disturbance. Subject to certain exceptions, the disturbance of burial sites and cataloged land contiguous to burial sites is prohibited. Under the bill, the director must issue a permit for the investigation of a cataloged burial site to the owner of the burial site or to the owner of cataloged land contiguous to the burial site if the burial site was cataloged before the date the bill becomes law and the owner disputes the existence of human remains in the burial site and applies for a permit. An owner issued a permit under the bill may, at the owner’s own expense, investigate the site for evidence of human remains using investigational methods set forth in the bill. If the investigation finds no evidence of human remains in the burial site, the director is required to remove the burial site and contiguous land from the catalog. For land that is cataloged on or after the date on which the bill becomes law, the bill provides that no burial site on private property and no private land that is contiguous to a burial site may be cataloged unless the director establishes that human remains are present in the burial site based on investigational methods set forth in the bill.
Todd James Rongstad to Effigy Mounds Initiative: ""WMC and Senator Kapenga's attack on the Burial Sites Law does point out a great vulnerability in the protection of Wisconsin's sacred sites -- that this landmark law from '86 was a far too narrow compromise. In the fight to come, please consider counter proposals that move beyond the burial sites justification. These sacred sites are world heritage sites that deserve honor and protection as cultural treasures above and beyond the common decency of protecting ancestor burials. Please do not allow bill proponents to focus the debate solely on ancestor remains and archaeological technology. The old law does need revision, but to expand cultural respect and protections -- not reduce them."