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Indian Mounds Near East Peoria to be Preserved With State Funds

Posted by Ramona Cardon to Councilfire


by AP, The Associated Press

East Peoria, Ill. (AP) _ The state plans to spend nearly $1 million to preserve a series of American Indian mounds that have remained a secret from the general public since their discovery about 70 years ago.

The mounds are located on 122 acres of Illinois River bluff land north of the U.S. 150 bridge that connects East Peoria and Peoria _ a site known as the Fey Property. Jim Coutts, former director of the Fondulac Park District, said the mounds are thousands of years old, dating from the Middle Mississippian Native American culture.

Relatively few people have known of the existence of the mounds, said Duane Esary, assistant curator of anthropology at the Illinois State Museum Dickson Mounds Branch in Lewistown.

"To my knowledge, they've never been excavated," Esary said.

Protection, and perhaps much more, now will come with the expected purchase of the Fey site by the park district with up to $815,000 from the Illinois Open Lands Trust Fund. The funding was authorized Jan. 7 by former Gov. George Ryan, acting on a request from state Rep. Ricca Slone, D-Peoria Heights.

Another $325,000 from the fund also may come through a request submitted by state Sen. George Shadid, D-Edwards. If awarded, it could be used to buy the former WIRL-AM radio station office just east of the Fey Property, said Mick Rosendahl, senior grant administrator for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. That 7,000-square-foot building could be used to house a museum of river bluff land history and archeology.

The park district applied for the Open Land Trust Fund grant to purchase the Fey Property more than a year ago. Ryan created the four-year program with $160 million worth of available grants shortly after his term began, Slone said.

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