Laine Girard/Grand Valley Lanthorn
Eugene Strong educated students on tribal traditions and rituals before the students entered into the mounds.

Students and Community Clean Up Native Burial Mound for Heritage Month


On November 2, students from Grand Valley State University and members of the West Michigan community teamed up to clean up a Native American burial ground. The day of service was one of their nods to Native American Heritage Month, reports the Grand Valley Lanthorn, a student-run publication.

The clean up focused on the Norton Mounds, located just a few miles south of Grand Rapids, Michigan, one of the remaining Hopewell Mounds, which the Grand Rapids Public Museum is working to preserve.

The day of service was run by the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and it began with an introduction by Eugene Strong, who works to preserve similar burial mounds in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

“They want to remove the mounds because that is the final act of genocide,” Strong said. “You’re helping the ancestors; you’re helping the culture and preventing the final act of genocide.”

The Grand Valley Lanthorn reported that Strong told the students that many have a hard time naming Native Americans in history, and that there is a need to raise awareness about Native history and culture. Showing respect by cleaning up the mounds is one way of doing this.

Terry Frechette, chairman of the West Michigan American Indian Movement, agreed with Strong, adding that many people don’t realize what the mounds are and will throw trash on them, which is why a clean up day is needed at least once a year.

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Pamela Graham's picture
Pamela Graham
Submitted by Pamela Graham on
Firstly, I'd like to commend all above that have taken their time, energy to respect and honor those ancestors gone before us. Secondly, I 'd like to make a comment about a forgotten, somewhat ignored Indian graveyard (Goins-Walden Cemetary)located on the Ft. Bragg military reservation in NC. The military has not forgotten it nor has living family members. The gave are marked with old Cherokee symbols that have been validated by Cherokee elders. I have alerted the three federally recognizes Cherokee Tribes about this graveyard, but the only response that I got was that it was not on"historical Cherokee territory". How these people got there I do not know. I do know that the graves are very old according to military experts, dating back to the 1800s. I know too, that these people let others know that they were Cherokee by the symbols left on their graves. They deserve to be acknowledged and honored no matter whose historical territory they are in. They have historical symbols on their grave rocks that possibly are no where else to be found. These Indian people, thru their last act, let us know they were Cherokee. They deserve to be honored!

Dr. Miss Betty Velma Bnada's picture
Dr. Miss Betty ...
Submitted by Dr. Miss Betty ... on
I would like to congratulate those who give of themselves for our heritage, not forgetting the sacredness of our people. Once again, many blessings and keep up the good work!! AHO All Our Relations