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8 October 2010
Battle to save the Louisiana State University mounds

The battle for the preservation of Louisiana State University mounds has been won by football fans for now. LSU administrators opted to remove ropes and poles which had been barricading the historic native American mounds on school grounds for safety reasons, LSU associate vice chancellor for communications Herb Vincent said. Fans and children had overcome the barriers the week before the first home football game. This decision came less than two weeks after LSU announced plans to block off what are commonly known as the 'Indian Mounds' for preservation purposes on high-traffic football game days. LSU archeologists and anthropologists who were out protecting the mounds and handing out literature said they felt abandoned by the LSU administration.
     Rebecca Saunders, archaeology professor and associate curator of the LSU Museum of Natural Science, said the preservationists were 'dumbfounded' the barricades were removed by the university without their knowledge. "It certainly is not very honorable and it doesn't teach the students a good lesson when they put in all this work," Saunders said of the protection and education efforts. "It certainly never occurred to us we'd meet this kind of resistance."
     The mounds, which are more than 6,000 years old, were made by prehistoric American Indian tribes - they are believed to have been used for ceremonial and marking-point purposes. Rob Mann, southeast regional archaeologist in LSU's geography and anthropology department, said the repeated trouncing, sledding and biking on the mounds, especially on tailgating weekends, is tearing them down. "These mounds are in danger of coming apart," Mann said. "The preservation and protection of these mounds is something we need to be proactive in." Mann said many people obeyed the barricades initially, but that, by the afternoon, a combination of alcohol consumption and growing crowds created a 'critical mass' that resulted in people ignoring the ropes. "Change is not easy," Mann said of traditions of tailgating and children playing by the mounds. "It would be nice if people would not just think of the mounds as big piles of dirt."

Edited from 2the advocate.com (28 September 2010)

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