After Hernán Díaz Alonso’s introduction, Ana María León discusses history of Big Mound, part of a complex of monumental burial mounds built by the Osage Nation (900-1450 CE) in what is now St. Louis, Missouri.
She frames the destruction of the site in 1869 as part of the process of removing indigenous culture from appropriated land. The story of the effort by the Colonial Dames of America to memorialize the site illustrates how historic preservation in the U.S. was informed by settler colonialism. Subsequent building has completely erased the original site.
She concludes, “while the destruction of Big Mound, the misplaced marker of the Colonial Dames, the construction of a bridge on top of the site are all violent events, there’s also a latent violence in the way this valuable site lies unacknowledged underneath a parking lot, an electrical substation, and a few unremarkable buildings. The unacknowledged existence of the ceremonial complex – and additional sites beyond – reveals that this violence is ongoing.”