Vincennes State Historic Site: Sugar Loaf Mound

It was a little bit underwhelming. Though I’m not sure what I expected. My destination was a small green open space on the side of a winding road nestled among a residential area. A gravel drive acted as the parking lot.

I got out and wandered toward the sign. I looked up at the mound and then around me. The guy mowing his lawn across the street caught my eye. Huh. So this was a sacred spot for Native Americans? A place used as a burial mound of the Late Woodland Indians around 600-1000 A.D.?

Unlike other Native American burial mounds, Sugar Loaf Mound is a naturally occurring mound. In other words, the Native Americans did not create the mound. Soil samples show bones in the middle of it, so the Native Americans used the existing geological structure to bury their dead. (Which dead? All dead? How were they buried?—This isn’t a large mound.)

Signs spoke of its sacredness and reminded visitors not to desecrate the site. No sledding. No vehicles on the mound. Apparently, climbing to the top was OK though. I looked around and spied stone steps nestled along the side and hidden by trees.

Although not huge—seems more like a swell than a mound, the mound was large enough to serve as a marker for travelers heading to Vincennes along the Buffalo Trace from Louisville and for runaway slaves traveling on the Underground Railroad. However, to my modern eyes, it seems small enough to easily miss.

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