Native American burial mounds at Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site have been illegally excavated and driven over in the worst desecration of a state historic site the state has seen in years.
The Chicago Tribune reports that someone has dug holes into one of the Native American burials. In a separate incident, someone drove a vehicle over one of the mounds. It’s unclear if anything was taken.
The site dates from about 1050 to 1400 AD, during the Mississippian period, a high point in pre-Columbian civilization in the area when large towns created elaborate art and traded across North America. Kincaid was a large town and religious center. The Mississippian people often buried their dead with beads, arrows, pots, and other grave goods. These fetch a good price on the illegal antiquities market and were probably what the vandals were after.
Such crimes come with serious penalties. Disturbing an archaeological sites or human remains on state land carries up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine. Unsettling of burials on public land can also be a felony punishable by up to three years behind bars and a $25,000 fine.
Painting by Herbert Roe courtesy Wikimedia Commons.