Bronson Park mound ID’d as Native American ceremonial site

Kalamazoo County

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Archaeologists and Kalamazoo city leaders are trying to uncover what could be underground a Native American mound in the southwest quadrant of Bronson Park

Following the removal of the controversial Fountain of the Pioneers and an incident with an excavator soon after, a ground-penetrating radar survey was conducted on the mound to discover what really lies underneath.

David Brose, Ph.D, an archaeology professor at the University of Michigan, was involved with the survey.

“It would begin to build a picture of what was below the ground at different levels and at different densities,” Brose explained.

The survey says it is not a burial site but something else.

“It had been built to commemorate some ceremonial activities that had taken place either in or around some sort of circular structure,” Brose said.

With those findings, city leaders including Gun Lake Tribe Councilwoman Phyllis Davis say the focus began to change.

“Just keeping it true to nature for what it is, is really a beautiful goal to have for those ancestors,” Davis said.

City leaders are planning to beautify the mound with a new landscaping plan and install four interpretive signs, digging deep into the area’s historic roots. They’re hoping to land a contract by winter and have the project at least started by spring.

A courtesy rendering of a landscaping plan for a native mound in Bronson Park in Kalamazoo. (Courtesy: City of Kalamazoo)

“We’re looking at this as a way to preserve that, to teach the community about the history of Michigan and the Indigenous people that have lived in this area for thousands of years and to enrich everyone’s life,” Davis said.

It won’t be Kalamazoo’s only Native American historical marker. A 9-square-mile section of present-day Kalamazoo used to be a Pottawatomi reserve. Various street signs throughout the city like Wellington Road currently mark the former reserve’s boundary lines.

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