Bradley T. Lepper
This study reports the results of a review and analysis of the historically documented views of American Indians relating to the mounds and enclosures of eastern North America with a focus on the Ohio valley. The earliest and most reliable sources indicate the American Indian tribes who occupied this region in the historic era had no traditions elucidating who built the mounds or why they had been built. The most common explanation given for the presence of these structures was that they were ancient forts. This interpretation may have been influenced by the idea once prevalent among European Americans, or it may have been one source of that popular, but largely erroneous conception. There is no consistent evidence that American Indians in eastern North America uniformly regarded the earthworks as sacred or religiously significant. American Indian testimony provides no reliable support for any particular claims of cultural affiliation between any modern/historic tribe and any prehistoric earthwork in this region.