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.

Lakota Indian Prayer

“In my youth I respected the world and life, I needed not anything but peace of heart;
And yet I changed despite myself and believed in Iktumi’s lies.
He seemed to know all the truth, he promised to make me happy.

He made me ask Wakantanka for wealth, that I might have power;
I was given poverty, that I might find my inner strength.

I asked for fame, so that others may know me;
I was given obscurity, that I may know myself.

I asked for a person to love that I might never be alone;
I was given the life of a hermit, that I might learn to accept myself.

I asked for power, that I might achieve;
I was given weakness that I might learn to obey.

I asked for health, that I might lead a long life;
I was given infirmity, that I might appreciate each minute.

I asked Mother Earth for strength, that I might have my way;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need for Her.

I asked to live happily, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might live happily.

I received nothing I asked for, yet all my wishes came true.
Despite myself and Iktumi, my dreams were fulfilled.
I am richly blessed, more than I had ever hoped.

Thank you, Wakantanka, for what you have given me.”

~ Billy Mills