We’re all familiar with Stonehenge, Ayer’s Rock and a number of other international places that are considered sacred by their people. But did you know that there are quite a few places in the United States that are considered sacred, too? We think of our country as a rather young one—and it is, technically—but it existed long before many of our ancestors were here, and the people who occupied it before we did had some very hallowed grounds that are still here today.
Patti Wigington, the About.com guide to paganism, recently released a great introduction to these places, including Sedona, Arizona, the Land’s End Labyrinth of San Francisco, the Serpent Mound of Ohio, and many other wonderful places.
Here are some places that didn’t make Patti’s list but are still quite compelling locales that continue to drive many a pilgrimage—or tourist visit. Here are some of the places considered to be most sacred in the Midwest.
Monks Mound, Cahokia, Illinois: The site of an ancient indigenous people’s city, Cahokia is the home of 80 man-made earthen mounds; there were originally 120 at the site. The largest prehistoric creation made of earth in the entire Americas, it’s considered both a World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark. Also in Illinois is the Kincaid Mounds State Historic Site, which consists of 105 acres of flat-topped mounds.
Indiana also has its share of sacred mounds, such as Mounds State Park, Great Circle Mound, and Angel Mounds. Mounds Park hosts ten mounds created by the Adena-Hopewell people, the largest believed to have been made in 160 B.C.
In addition to Serpent Mound, Ohio hosts a number of sacred sites, including Mound City, created by the Hopewell between 200 B.C. and 500 A.D., Power Mound, and Newark Earth Works.
Blue Mound State Park, Devil’s Lake, Lizard Mound and Temple Mounds can all be found in Wisconsin.
The Norton Mounds of Michigan may be the state’s oldest burial grounds, dating back some 2,000 years. People still leave offerings of tobacco, sage, and other herbs in small pouches at the mounds’ gate.
Oklahoma is home to Antelope and Buffalo Springs, located in the Arbuckle Mountains. The springs are a part of the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, named after the Chickasaw Indian Nation who were forced to relocate in these lands from the Southeastern U.S. Spiro Mounds State Park is also in Oklahoma.
Minnesota is home to the Pipestone Quarry, of the Pipestone National Monument, and Jeffers Petroglyph site, where 5,000-year-old etchings of turtles, deer, elk, buffalo, arrows and thunderbirds can be found.