Snow Day

Students sled down the Indian Mounds on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 on campus.

The LSU Indian Mounds are about 6,100 years old, older than the Egyptian pyramids, but you wouldn’t know from how we treat them.

In 2010, the University decided to restrict access to the Indian Mounds on large game days due to the weak nature of the mounds, a decision they worried could upset alumni and fans who had a tradition of celebrating on the hills. But the mounds were dangerously close to collapsing and something had to be done, game traditions be damned.

“The problem is that heavy usage, such as what the mounds experience during a typical home football game, is causing damage to the structures, both internally and externally,” Professor Brooks Ellwood said on the matter in 2010. Ellwood, who has done considerable research on the mounds, added, “On the outside, you can see scarring, but on the inside, the whole thing is basically collapsing. It’s like a glacier calving – huge chunks of its support system are chipping off from undue pressure.” 

And so, a barricade was used to prevent the public from crawling up the sides.

Nine years later, it’s clear that the mounds are still here and intact. However, it’s imperative the University restores the barricade around the mounds as a permanent fixture.

I go past the Indian mounds every day, and if I had a nickel for every time I saw someone standing on the mounds, I’d have enough money to solve the student debt crisis. If you visit the Indian mounds, you will see an official University sign that clearly tells people not to walk on the mounds, and yet, there they are.

A sign asking people to politely not stand on a 6,000-year-old archaeology site is just simply not enough of a deterrent. Although archaeologists familiar with the mounds back in 2010 said the weight of a few people would not be enough for it to collapse, why risk it?

You don’t see people sitting on Stonehenge or creeping up the Pyramids of Giza, and the mounds should be no different. They should be respected like the valuable piece of history they are.

Moreover, the lack of a barricade or any real supervision of the mounds in juxtaposition to how often the University mentions them as a distinguishing part of our campus is, quite frankly, disrespectful. There are pieces of art in Howe Russell that are better protected than the 6,000-year-old  historical site that we have out on campus.

The mounds are just one part of a bigger issue.

The University seems happy to benefit from the reputation of the mounds and those that built it without making any big efforts to preserve native tribes around Louisiana.

In 2001, Miami University partnered with the Miami tribe of Oklahoma to create the Myaamia Center. The partnership helped revive the Myaamia language, a language which had died out in the 1960s.

The Chitimacha tribe is a Native Louisiana tribe, with a reserve about two hours south of the University. In 2008, the Chitimacha partnered with Rosetta Stone to revive their lost language, a mission which they have achieved.

Our University could easily take inspiration from Miami University and partner with the Chitimacha to create language and culture classes to show it cares about preserving Native American history.

From basket weaving to traditional language classes, the University could create numerous ways for students to engage with Native American culture, rather than just stepping on it.

Elli Korn is a 19-year-old mass communication sophomore from Dallas, Texas.

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