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(image) Mississippian mound.

“This is the worst place to get any information I ever struck. I have asked a thousand questions, and about the only consolation I have is . . . to tramp to every mound I can hear of and look at it for myself. One man today was willing to swear that a mound in this country was over a quarter of a mile high! That's all I know. Of course, De Soto comes in for a large share of this work." Letter from Charles S. Smith to Bureau of American Ethnology president Cyrus Thomas, April 3, 1885

“Here, covered in with gigantic trees of a primitive forest, the work truly presents a grand and impressive appearance; and upon entering the ancient avenue for the first time, the visitor does not fail to experience a sensation of awe such as he might feel in passing the portals of an Egyptian temple." E.G. Squier and E.H. Davis, Ancient Monuments, 1848

“An ancient and unknown people left remains of settled life, and of a certain degree of civilization, in the valleys of the Mississippi and its tributaries. We have no authentic name for them either as a nation or a race; therefore they are called "Mound-Builders," this name having been suggested by an important class of their works."James Baldwin, Ancient America, 1872

Left: Late 19th century sketch of Phanard Mounds, Arkansas, by Cyrus Thomas, head of the Smithsonian's Bureau of American Ethnology. Thomas could not reconcile the precision of the mounds with the notion that they were built by Indians. He later changed his mind.

MJB/EJL