Conference: Mounds and Memory

Mounds and Memory Conference Image


Mounds and Memory: Indigenous Sovereignty, Ceremonial Spaces, and Stories of the Mound Builders


Co-organized by Pamela Klassen (with Philip J. Deloria), at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Centre, during her term as the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies.

Mounds and earthworks are monumental human­made landforms which, over the past 5000 years (or more), have served as ceremonial gathering spaces, burial sites, astronomical landmarks, pilgrimage destinations, and centers of Indigenous politics, mobility, and commerce. They remain important sites for the activation and expression of Indigenous sovereignty. The goal of this workshop is to convene a conversation about the stewarding and re­storying of mounds and earthworks including scholars, Indigenous knowledge holders, and museum and heritage professionals. 

The presenters gathered for this workshop will analyze the multiple, entangled, and contested claims that have shaped Great Lakes mounds and earthworks as sites of memory, ceremony, and territorial jurisdiction for both Indigenous peoples and settlers. Presenters will examine narratives of the mound builders as building blocks of national memory in multijurisdictional frames, with special focus on the Manitou Mounds at Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre (Rainy River First Nations), the Newark Earthworks, near Columbus, Ohio, and the burial mounds of Pamitaashkodeyong/Hiawatha First Nation. The papers will draw critical attention to how settler imaginations of North American antiquity tried to empty the land of Indigenous stories, ceremony, and sovereignty, further exposing treaty lands to white settlement, Christian cosmologies, and capitalist resource extraction. The papers will also address how mounds and earthworks persist as contemporary spaces of gathering and ceremony in ways that have enabled Indigenous sovereignty.


Robert Greene, Elder-in-Residence, Canadian Museum of Human Rights, lskatewizaagegan Independent First Nation 
John Low, Newark Earthworks Center, Ohio State University 
Stacey Taylor, Terrestrial Archeologist, Parks Canada 
Giitaagiizhig Art Hunter, Kay-Nah-Chi­Wah-Nung Historical Centre (Manitou Mounds) and Rainy River First Nations 
Krista Barclay, University of Toronto 
Chadwick Cowie, University of Toronto, Pamitaashkodeyong/Hiawatha First Nation 
Meghan Howey, University of New Hampshire 
M Dougherty, Toronto Metropolitan University 
Kendall Sneyd, University of Toronto 
Lindsay Martel Montgomery, University of Toronto 
Spencer Dew, Ohio State University/Kenyon College 
Pamela E. Klassen, Harvard University/University of Toronto 
Christina E. Pasqua, University of Toronto 
Maureen Matthews, University of Manitoba 
Alan Corbiere, York University 
Philip J. Deloria, Harvard University 

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