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Archive for Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tribe buys mound in St. Louis

August 4, 2009

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— An Oklahoma-based tribe has bought the last remaining American Indian mound in St. Louis for about $230,000.

Osage Nation Principal Chief Jim Gray described the purchase Friday as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The Gateway City was once home to more than 40 mounds and used to be known as Mound City. Urban development destroyed all the mounds but Sugar Loaf.

The Osage didn’t build Sugar Loaf, but the tribe believes its ancestors include a people who disappeared long before Europeans came to North America. That society built massive earthworks throughout the Midwest, the best-known examples the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Ill.

“One only has to look across the river to Cahokia Mounds to realize a vast civilization that rivaled any of its day once existed here,” Gray said.

The couple who owned Sugar Loaf put it up for sale last fall after deciding to move to California to live closer to relatives.

The tribe plans to demolish the 900-square-foot house on top of the mound as well as two others at its base and develop the property as an interpretive historical site.

The tribe is talking with other groups about the project. The Great Rivers Greenway District and the Confluence Partnership has suggested making Sugar Loaf a centerpiece of a new riverfront trail that would link the mound to Cahokia and other Indian sites in the region.

Plans call for archaeological digs to be banned.

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