Home World Festivals Indian Mound Festival, Ohio : All You Need To Know

Indian Mound Festival, Ohio : All You Need To Know

Indian Mound Festival
By Jammil Razzaq

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Conus Mound by Mike Tewkesbury

Across the Plains Ohio, we see these elevated round and conical heaps of ground like a hill. Though they may seem natural, in reality, they are historic mounds built by Adena Native Americans. The Indian Mound Festival, Plains, Ohio, is a celebration in remembrance of these earthworks. The Plains Lions Club sponsors this event. The festival was started in 1984 to raise pride and awareness among the locals about the earthwork left behind by the Adena culture.

The Indian Mound Festival festival involves a tour of the twenty-two Adena mounds; collectively, they are called “Wolf Plains,” and along with the tour, there are several more events to entertain the visitors. The festival is a great way to spend your weekend with awesome food and music. Learning about the culture that existed 2000 years ago is also a fun part of the event. You will be introduced to some of the most talented folk artists. You can bring awesome crafts to your home.

The Indian Mound Festival

Indian Girl by Alexandra Petrakova

Thirty-four years ago, The Plains Community Association decided to commemorate the Adena Mounds and started the Indian Mound Festival in Plains, Ohio. The festival brought many tourists to the town. That helped in growing the local businesses. The festival also helped build interest in Indigenous history, which resulted in a decrease in the rate of demolition of the mounds. Since 1984, the Indian Mound Festival is one of the main events in The Plains, Ohio.

The Indian Mound festival occurs at the Plains Community Park, Plains, Ohio, United States of America. The three-day celebration includes many activities for people to enjoy, such as the parade, the ancient spear-throwing competition called “atlatl,” and flint knapping. One can enjoy the booths filled with local crafts and food. You can learn about the history of the wolf plains and Adena culture at the Ohio History Center. There are horse-pulled wagon rides and hayrides that take the tourists around to see the mounds all day; the ride has a narrator who tells the story and literature of the Mounds and Adena culture.  

The Indian Mound Festival also hosts various competitions like the Brave and Princess contest, Queen contest, Nasp tournaments, and a Royalty Talent show. There is live music with folk artists, old-time Rock and Roll, and dance performances. Many shows are happening at the main stage, such as children’s tractor pull, magic shows, and line dancing. People can register for Karaoke. The festival has a Cannon Night fire, car show, cruise-in, and petting zoo.

On the last day of the festival, the contest winners are announced, and all the royalty court is crowned. Overall, this three-day all-packed event has something for everyone. The sense of community can be seen throughout the time the festival lasts, and just like how these mounds were built by a team effort of a lot of people, it also takes a village to make this event. Indian Mound festival is like a fun-filled history class where everyone acknowledges and embraces the past rather than ignoring it.

What Are These Mounds?

Pre-excavated Adena Mound, Chillicothe, Ohio

 In Adena culture, these mounds were constructed for various purposes such as burial, ceremonial, and commemorative, and they date back to 200 A.D. The Adena culture existed from 1000 to 200 B.C., but now there are not many things that tell us about them, so these mounds play a significant part in understanding the traditions that this culture followed. The Adena Native Americans were indigenous groups that share a common artistic style, crafts, and burial rituals.

The first conical mound studied was in Chillicothe, situated on Thomas Worthington’s estate, who called his property ‘Adena,’ which is why the mound was named ‘Adena Mound,’ the tribe who built them became the Adena people. The culture was also the first one to start the pottery. Even though they were known as hunter-gatherers, they also domesticated crops such as sunflower, squash, and tobacco. Their art and culture were also one of their kind and were sources of inspiration for many tribes to come after them. Some of the excavation tells us that they wore animal jawbones, beads, copper, and teeth as jewelry, 

The Wolf Plains Group, By Ephraim George Squier and en: Edwin Hamilton Davis

In building these monumental earthworks, there were loads of basketful of graded soil and earth required, and at that time, there wasn’t a use of wheels and horses, which made it an enormous task. Most likely, that is why one mound was used for multiple burials by piling more earth on top of the previous mounds. This cultural practice of mound-building, which was started by Adena culture, was used by several other tribes for over 20 centuries. 

Inside of a Mound

These mounds were built in different layers, and according to the departed’s rank, the funeral ceremonies also differed. Lower rank members of the tribe were cremated before their burial. In contrast, the leaders and higher rank members were buried with cultural items like pottery and beads and a big ceremony. Many families had their own burial mounds. The skeletons found beneath the structure were larger than a normal size human being today, and that has been an interesting topic for research for many years.

A Little Tour Of Some Interesting Mounds 

 1. Adena Mound

It is the main site for the mounds. It is named after the Adena culture. It is located in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Adena Mound, Chillicothe, Ohio- By Ted (Flickr)

2. Conus Mound

In Marietta, Ohio, this mound is surrounded by the mound cemetery built-in 1801 to preserve the mound from decimation.

Conus Mound, Marietta, Ohio

3. Luthor List Mound

It is also known as “Burning Mound,” it is in Marietta, Ohio.

Luthor List Mound, Pickaway County, Ohio- by Nyttend

4. Arledge Mound

It is a combination of two conjoined conical mounds in Circleville Pickaway County.

Arledge Mound, Circleville, Pickaway County, Ohio- By Aesopposea

5. Miamisburg Mound

It is the most noticeable mound in Miamisburg, Ohio. It is also a great tourist attraction for picnics.

Miamisburg Mound, Miamisburg, Ohio- By Ted


6. Hartman Mound

This mound is the second-largest and best-conserved mound. It is the only mound owned Archeological Conservancy. It dates back to about 2000 years.

Hartman Mound, The Mound Street, The Plains, Ohio

7. Serpent Mound

    It is the largest earthwork that is believed to be built by Adena culture. It was discovered in 1984 by Ephraim George Squier and Edwin Hamilton Davis. It is a 1370 feet long mound and formed like a curved snake with an egg at the mouth.


Serpent Mound, Adams County, Ohio- by Stephanie A. Terry

  So, What  Did We Learn?

 These Mounds are some of the only remaining connections we have to the Adena Culture, and they are being demolished day by day because of the further development in the area. The need to spread awareness for the mounds is vital. Only one of the mounds is owned by Archeological Conservancy (Hartman Mound), but most of these mounds are on private property, and the owner, to make use of the land, tries to remove them. The Archeological conservancy is trying to buy more of these mounds with funding, but not many willing sellers.

It is a surreal thing to see the remanent of a life lived so long ago in the present time. We live for a bright future; we are thought to think about what comes next, how can we make new advancements in technology, and in that race, we often forget to cast light on the past that was lived before us how did we reached where we are today. 

The Indian Mound festival is a great way to get the mounds noticed by travelers and becoming a tourist spot. With all the fun activities, it becomes easy to spread awareness about these mounds, and if the festival gains more popularity, the chances of their survival will gain exponentially. The Mounds are really an important source in discovering the artifacts buried by Adena Culture, which provides knowledge about their daily life, what tools they were using, and their art and crafts. Some of the mounds are still intact, and many were excavated for archeological purposes.

When we first started to discover the beginning of culture in the human race, we looked back to when things were not easy; people were still trying to figure out what a community is. In today’s time when things are easily accessible and our generation and those coming after us, will never understand what it was like to I’ve in a time when people needed to band together and cooperate to build such monumental earthworks and how that process strengthened their sense of solidarity, which left the legacy of teamwork and hard work for the generation to come.

The occasions like Indian Mound Festival are significant in spreading the history to the people who generally may not show any interest; they help us learn about how these communities stuck together in their daily lives and how they were still together in paying tribute to the departed.

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