The superintendent of a national park in eastern Iowa was fired Friday over what one official calls “regrettable events.” The Effigy Mounds National Monument was established in 1949 to protect significant Native American burial mounds in northeast Iowa, near Harpers Ferry.
On Friday, Effigy Mounds superintendent Phyllis Ewing was “relieved of her duties” — officials won’t comment further because it’s a personnel matter. Park Service officials say someone “from outside the park” will be named acting superintendent this week.
The “regrettable events” involve construction of a boardwalk trail and maintenance building, as they were built without proper review of whether the construction would disturb the Native American burial grounds. The Effigy Mounds National Monument is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are more than 200 burial mounds on the site, constructed between 700 and 2,500 years ago. The deep holes dug for the support piers of the boardwalk may have damaged the archeological features of the mounds.
On Tuesday, an advisory council including members of the 12 tribes who have ancestors buried in the area will meet with park service staff and archeologists to discuss what should be done at the site. The regional director of the Park Service will be at Effigy Mounds this Wednesday to meet with the park staff.
There are at least 30 “effigy” mounds in the park in the shape of bears and birds and they’re considered sacred grounds by the tribes.
The following 12 tribes will have representatives at Tuesday’s meeting:
Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma
Otoe-Missouri Tribe of Oklahoma
Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
Upper Sioux Community of Minnesota (Granite Falls)
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community of Minnesota
Lower Sioux Indian Community of Minnesota
Prairie Island Indian Community of Minnesota
Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa
Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska
Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma