During the recent freeze, students used the campus Indian Mounds as a sledding hill, upsetting members of the Native American Student Organization and many other LSU students. NASO and their allies have since urged LSU administrators and Facility Services to take immediate action to protect and preserve the monuments.
Because of their age and rarity, the mounds have extreme historical and cultural significance. NASO member Shea Ferguson explains that these mounds are an important representation of Native American history and culture, and they should be adequately preserved and protected.
“We are extremely fortunate to have something like this on campus where people can see it,” Ferguson said. “It’s in a prominent place on campus. No other campus can make a claim like that, to have a man made monument basically, a site, a very special site, that's over 10,00 years old.”
NASO is asking LSU for immediate funding for attractive and permanent fencing to be placed around the mounds, as well as more updated signage to express the significance of the monuments and to deter foot traffic.
Ferguson believes that the misuse of the mounds has continued for decades, partly due to the fact that Native Americans are one of the smallest minority groups on campus. Student body president Stone Cox says that being a voice for small groups on campus is a top priority.
“Were looking out for them because their voices matter on our campus as well. And we want to make sure we represent those just as equally as we would other student organizations and other students,” Cox said.
Dennis Mitchell, LSU’s campus landscape architect inspected the damages caused by the sledding. And although they weren't catastrophic, the damages could be if activity on the mounds continues. Mitchell stated that LSU is taking a campus-wide approach to determine the best way to protect and perseveres the mounds going forward.
“Were gonna have to create some type of barrier that intuitively you know, I shouldn’t be crossing the barriers. If I cross the barrier I will be into a space that I’m not supposed to be there,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell believes that while fencing and signage may be partially effective, true change will come through a shift in attitudes among student.
“It's so easy to just want to put up a sign that says keep off the grass. But we need to go beyond that. It needs to be part of the common knowledge that this is not a place that we need to be gathering on top of,” Mitchell said.
At this time Facility Services is unsure where the funding for the project will come from.