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Mound Builders' Thunderbird Found at Stack's

Source: Lakelan Times, July 9, 1959

A "thunderbird," a totem 90 feet long made by the mound builders Indians centuries ago, has been rediscovered at Stack's Bay resort by Roy Stack, O.L. Krasselt of Minocqua, and Herman Witt of Tomahawk River.

Fishermen first discovered the mound ten years ago but the were unable to relocate it.

After studying the shape of the wings, Mr. Witt concluded that the mound depicts a thunderbird in swift flight. Thunderbird is the pietic name Indians gave to the eagle in their legends.

The mound is 90 feet long, has a 30 foot wingspan, and is about three feet high. It was undoubtedly higher when first built, but the forces of nature have eroded it, and loggers in the '90's dragged timber across it, not realizing what it was.

Other Evidence

There are about a dozen mounds in the area, but the others are all circular in shape and from 20 to 30 ft. across.

Two years ago, the skeleton of an elderly person was found buried under a foot of charcoal in one of the circular mounds. Mr. Stack recently sent a sample of the charcoal to the University of Wisconsin where scientists will run tests. (probably carbon 14 radioactivity tests) to determine the exact age.

From the age of the trees that grew on that mound since it was built, Mr. Stack concluded that it was made before 1700, at the very latest, and is probably far older.

A Vanished Tribe

Who were the mound builders'?

They were a people who lived along the entire length of the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys, but had vanished by the time the early French and Spanish explorerers reached America

At first it was believed they were an extinct race, but later scientists decided they were American Indians. No one knows what happened to them -- whether they were wiped out by disease or war, moved to other parts of the continent, or were obsorbed by later tribes such as the local Chippewas or their predecessors, the Sioux.

Settled Life

Their culture and living standards were somewhat better than those of latter Indian inhabitants. In order to build their elaborate mounds and totems they must have had a settled life and efficient government.

They made artistic copper ornaments at Isle Royale, in Lake Superior, they had mud and stone quarries.

The mounds they built depicted many kinds of wildlife -- snakes, birds, buffalo, elk, moose, panthers, deer, wolves. Some were 100 feet long.

In other places where the mounds have been found, they were used as altars and burial place grounds. Their function appears to have been primarily religious. No excavating has been done on Mr.Stack's thunderbird mound.

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