Mendota Mental Health Institute
Between 1000 B.C. and 1000 A.D. effigy mounds were built on
the north side of Lake Mendota. MMHI's eagle logo represents the largest effigy on the
hospital grounds. Following is an excerpt from a scholarly paper done in preparation for a
book on this subject by a member of Mendota's psychiatric staff:
The Journey of the Soul to
As Told by the Effigy Mounds
by Gary J. Maier, M.D.
The land of the northwest shore of Lake Mendota in Madison,
Wisconsin, now the grounds of the Mendota Mental Health Institute, used to hold about 50
Indian mounds in three clusters.
The eastern cluster, which portrayed a procession of
thunderbird, falcon, fox, and other animal mounds has been completely destroyed.
The mounds in the central cluster, which include the
world's largest eagle effigy mound (624 foot wing span, 131 foot body), are relatively
well preserved, as are the majority of the conical and linear mounds in the western
This paper will describe the findings of the excavation of
two of the conical mounds in the western cluster which included a classical burial chamber
containing three human skeletons.
A modern aerial photometric survey will show that several
mounds-- the turtle, deer, and eagle -- are aligned to correspond with the moon, sun, and
North Star, respectively.
The deeper meaning of the mounds will be discovered by
placing them against the backdrop of a Winnebago/Sioux liturgy of the soul's four day
journey to Earthmaker.
A partial list from Dr. Maier's bibliography for further
July 12, 2010