Mounds, Preservation and Pot Hunters

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has an intersting story about one person’s effort to preserve a mound:

Leach, an amateur archaeologist, is hoping at least one West County city will pass a law to help crack down on the robbing of ancient burial sites.
He’s also trying to persuade people to adopt mounds and watch over them. “It’s just one person who is going to say, ‘They may bulldoze every other mound in Missouri or loot every other mound, but not this one,'” Leach said.
Not long ago, thousands of burial mounds dotted the landscape in west St. Louis County.
Archaeologists now estimate there are probably fewer than 20 in Chesterfield and surrounding cities. Most have become casualties of development, buried beneath subdivisions and parking lots.


Leach also is recruiting people to watch over the mounds. Don Prestien, a former West County farmer, has been watching over two mounds in Chesterfield for the past few years.
“A lot of effort went in to putting these things up,” he said. “I just feel that we should have a little respect for some of the work that came before us.”
On different occasions, Prestien has spotted places where looters have dug into a mound, and he has filled the holes to keep acid from fallen leaves from leaching into the ground.


A few hundred yards away from the Chesterfield school stood the largest surviving mound in St. Louis County: the 20-foot-high Blake Mound, named after Leonard Blake, another amateur archaeologist who began documenting the county’s Native American sites in the 1930s.
Leach didn’t want the location published, for fear it would attract more looters.
For more than a year, he and area college students have worked to restore the damage done by looters.
It took more than 186,000 basket-loads of dirt to build up the conical-shaped hill, Leach said.
“To date we’ve put over 30,000 pounds of fill soil into it, filling in damaged areas,” he said.

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