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The Blooming Grove area’s first inhabitants, the Indians, have left traces of three distinct cultures, the last of which is represented by the very prominent and still visible earth forms known as Indian mounds.


The earliest Indians, dating from the Archaic period – 7000 B.C. to 100 B.C. – were known for specialization in food gathering and tool making. Characteristic tools of the period, such as projectile points, drills, and scrapers, have been found on the present site of the WPS building on West Broadway. 


The Woodland Culture period, which followed, was from about 500 B.C. to the arrival of Europeans. Most of the Indian artifacts discovered in Monona belong to this period. The tribes of this time were nomadic and depended on hunting, fishing, and gathering of native foods such as wild rice. 


The third culture – the Effigy Mound Builders – was a division of the Woodland group. In these effigy mounds and in other mounds of conical or linear shapes, they buried their dead and artifacts. Their mounds are found only in Wisconsin and small portions of adjacent states. 


There are about ten Indian burial mounds in Monona, including the conical, linear, and effigy shapes. Evidence of the effigy mounds can still be found in the Frost Woods area, and along the shores of Lake Monona. 


The Winnebagos (Ho-Chunk) , the most recent Indian inhabitants of the area, evolved from the woodland culture, and were hunters, fishers, and farmers. The first white settlers of the area (about 1837) borrowed some of the Winnebago cultivation methods for their own use. The Winnebagos lived in bark- and rush-covered wigwams accommodating as many as 15 people. 


The Four Lakes Region, which they called “Tejop”, contained several key campsite areas. One of the most significant and best known was on Squaw or Strawberry Point, later known as Winnequah Point (at the south end of Winnequah Trail). Their name for Lake Monona was “Tohee-ha-bo-kee-ha-kay-ta-la”, meaning “teepee lake”. By 1849, scholars of Indian legends found references to the names Mendota and Monona, and suggested they would be suitable names for the lakes bordering Madison.


On September 15, 1832, the Winnebagos ceded their lands to the United States at Fort Armstrong, Rock Island, Illinois. In 1840, they were escorted west of the Mississippi River by government troops. However, more than have of them returned later and settled in the Black River Falls and Wisconsin Dells areas, and made seasonal visits to their former village sites, such as the Frost Woods neighborhood in Monona. By the early 1900s, the inhabitants of Madison found Blooming Grove Township (now Monona) to be in a “wild and unimproved condition, and in possession of the Indians.”


Indian wigwams no longer dot the Monona landscape, but memories of the “first inhabitants” are preserved. Early Monona residents remember groups of Indians selling baskets near the site of the intersection of Bridge Road and West Broadway. Their effigy mounds are treasured and several Monona streets bear Indian names. In fact, Panther Trail is named after a panther-shaped effigy mound that still exists on private property near the west end of the road. During the 1990s, the city of Monona, led by an active landmarks commission, began a campaign to honor the mounds and the people who made them by designating any surviving mounds as city landmarks. 


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Wisconsin Historical Images ID#33815

Winnebago Wigwams by Seth Eastman

Ada Deer (Menominee, Art Shegonee (Menominee/Potawatomi), and Dallas White Wing (Ho-Chunk) at the 2002 dedication of the historical marker at the Woodland Park mounds in Monona

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