LSU Campus Mounds
At the heart of LSU’s campus are two earthen mounds, architectural remnants created by Native Americans thousands of years ago – built by egalitarian hunter-gatherers and a subject of mystery and marvel for generations of admirers.The LSU Campus Mounds (16EBR6) are now at a crossroads. They are at risk, but thoughtful action, inspired by respect for the past, can preserve these cultural treasures into the future.
The Committee to Preserve the LSU Campus Mounds
The committee's overall goal is to support a plan for permanent protection of the LSU Campus Mounds and to develop a sustainable educational plan.
- Inform LSU and the greater community about the historical, cultural, and geological significance of the mounds
- Develop clear guidance on how to respect and protect the mounds
- Communicate the opportunity and benefits of funding for this initiative
“The LSU Campus Mounds are probably the best protected mounds because they are on the campus of LSU and LSU has made a very strong commitment to preserving them. Most of the other mounds are on private land and landowners can do what they’d like with them.”
Chip McGimsey, Louisiana State Archaeologist
A Time for Action
The LSU Campus Mounds represented a sacred and ceremonial place for the Native Americans who built them and continue to be recognized as such by people today. The mounds have been part of LSU’s identity since the university moved from a site north of downtown Baton Rouge to its current campus in the 1920s, when they were immediately recognized as something special. The LSU site is one of the few locations in Louisiana where visitors and tourists can visit and see Native American mounds, and they are the oldest mounds in Louisiana that are publicly accessible.
For all of these reasons, researchers have long sought, with varying levels of success,
to protect the mounds from deterioration from both the elements and from people walking,
sitting, sliding, and biking on them. LSU has responded with vehicle barriers, signage,
temporary fencing, and game-day rules to discourage the public from potentially damaging
the mounds further.
But years of activity on the mounds have left wear and tear, including visible deformation on one mound. And the growth of trees on the mounds and their subsequent decay have contributed to increased water flow into the mounds, as well as scarring from erosion. There are also concerns about vibrations from traffic passing nearby.
On Feb. 3, 2020, a newly formed committee met to begin discussing a new master plan
for protecting and preserving the mounds. The plan consists of three areas: Design,
Education, and Support.
To minimize future disturbance at the mounds and stabilize current deterioration, the design concept seeks to keep people off the mounds and to increase the buffer around the mounds for further protection. The plan includes plantings and additional landscaping to discourage wandering from the pathways, as well as non-intrusive fencing and an observation deck to allow unencumbered views of the site. The mounds themselves would get a clay soil cap, topped with native grasses and native wildflowers, minimizing the need for mowing and other potentially damaging maintenance. The long-term concept envisions rerouting nearby roads to lower traffic vibrations.
To educate the public on the local and global significance, the plan includes interpretive presentations around the mounds; a pop-up mini museum for game days and other events; guided tours; school materials; and more – all with the additional goal of instilling a sense of respect and pride in these archaeological treasures. The committee is seeking support for these efforts through grants and fundraising activities and events.
- Scientists Advocate for Endangered Louisiana Archaeological Sites to be Included in Coastal Restoration Plans (Jan. 4, 2023)
- Research Findings: LSU Mounds the Oldest Known Human-Made Structures in the Americas (Aug. 19, 2022)
- Reveille: Mounds Committee Drafts Plan for Further Protection, Collaboration with Athletics (Jan. 27, 2022)
- Country Roads Magazine: Unearthing Prehistory, One Shard at at Time (Sept. 21, 2020)
- 64 Parishes: LSU Campus Mounds (Undated)
- Louisiana Travel: Native American Indian Mounds Across Louisiana (Undated)