Monday, October 20, 2014

Dickson Mounds Museum

Across the River from Havana, IL resides the Dickson Mounds Museum. A property that was once owned by Dr. Don F Dickson in the late 1920’s. Dr. Dickson was working on the family farm when he discovered several grave sites from the people of the Mississippian Era on his family farm. The mounds were built by the people in the Mississippian Era as burial sites for their deceased. As Dr. Dickson uncovered several grave sites he discovered many artifacts with the dead (the artifacts can now be seen at the museum). Dr. Dickson later sold his property to the Illinois State Museum in 1965. The museum is now visited by people across the world and holds unique artifacts and historical information about the different people who lived in this special spot we now call Dickson Mounds.
Artifacts at the Museum
Three different groups of people lived in the area near Dickson Mounds at the confluence of the Illinois River and the Spoon River for over 12,000 years. The different tribes living in this area transitioned from hunter gathers to gardeners becoming more established through time and eventually creating towns with populations reaching over 800 people. This area sustained life for so many years because of the rich land that was left behind by the massive floods of the Ancient Mississippi River and the Illinois River. 
Mississippian Era Exhibit
We spent our time at the museum walking through the multiple floors of artifacts and historical information learning about the history, culture and geology of the area. While we were visiting, the Director of the Museum, Dr. Mike Wiant, stopped to talk with us about the museum. He shared with us many facts about the museum and the content inside. Part way through our conversation he strayed from museum facts and challenged us to think about why the Native tribes living in that area for over 12,000 years were so successful. If it wasn't for colonization the Native Tribes of the Illinois River valley would still be living there today. In the relatively new era of urbanization after colonization the river was channelized and the river floodplains drained for agriculture altering the Illinois River ecosystem forever.

Dr. Mike Wiant

The Illinois River is just one of many failing ecosystems in our World today. These ecosystems are failing because we demand too much from them. However, without them we cannot survive. We’re stuck between the ever increasing demand for food, energy, and water (to name only a few) and the reality is that we cannot meet the demand. We can lessen that demand changing what we need. If consumers (that’s you!) need less, there will be less of a demand on our ecosystems.

I encourage everyone to find out their ecological “footprint” by doing a short online activity. You will learn how many planets we would need if everyone in the World lived like you. Follow this website ( and see how.

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