Earthworks Rising

Earthworks Rising

Mound Building in Native Literature and Arts

Chadwick Allen

A necessary reexamination of Indigenous mounds, demonstrating their sustained vitality and vibrant futurity by centering Native voices

424 Pages, 6 x 8 in



Earthworks Rising

Mound Building in Native Literature and Arts

Series: Indigenous Americas

Chadwick Allen

ISBN: 9781517912338

Publication date: March 29th, 2022

424 Pages

34 b&w illustrations, 20 color plates

8 x 6

"This eye-opening book calls attention to earthworks as monumental achievements in science and aesthetics, bringing together geometrical and mathematical knowledge, precise observations of natural phenomena, and feats of engineering. Bearing witness to thousands of years of Indigenous habitation, they continue to flourish in contemporary performances across multiple genres and media. A must-read for all students of American culture."—Wai Chee Dimock, author of Weak Planet: Literature and Assisted Survival

"While addressing the long line of academic and popular texts that ‘capture Indigenous earthworks within the white imaginary,’ Chadwick Allen moves far beyond them to center Indigenous writers, artists, and a process of collaborative experiential and embodied engagement to show how earthworks are dynamic participants in creating Indigenous futures."—Lisa Brooks, author of Our Beloved Kin: A New History of King Philip’s War


"With engaging prose and calculated analysis, Allen’s Earthworks Rising entices readers away from the static diorama and the black-and-white textbook page and toward earthworks themselves."—H-Net Reviews

A necessary reexamination of Indigenous mounds, demonstrating their sustained vitality and vibrant futurity by centering Native voices

Typically represented as unsolved mysteries or ruins of a tragic past, Indigenous mounds have long been marginalized and misunderstood. In Earthworks Rising, Chadwick Allen issues a compelling corrective, revealing a countertradition based in Indigenous worldviews. Alongside twentieth- and twenty-first-century Native writers, artists, and intellectuals, Allen rebuts colonial discourses and examines the multiple ways these remarkable structures continue to hold ancient knowledge and make new meaning—in the present and for the future.

Earthworks Rising is organized to align with key functional categories for mounds (effigies, platforms, and burials) and with key concepts within mound-building cultures. From the Great Serpent Mound in Ohio to the mound metropolis Cahokia in Illinois to the generative Mother Mound in Mississippi, Allen takes readers deep into some of the most renowned earthworks. He draws on the insights of poets Allison Hedge Coke and Margaret Noodin, novelists LeAnne Howe and Phillip Carroll Morgan, and artists Monique Mojica and Alyssa Hinton, weaving in a personal history of earthwork encounters and productive conversation with fellow researchers.

Spanning literature, art, performance, and built environments, Earthworks Rising engages Indigenous mounds as forms of “land-writing” and as conduits for connections across worlds and generations. Clear and compelling, it provokes greater understanding of the remarkable accomplishments of North America’s diverse mound-building cultures over thousands of years and brings attention to new earthworks rising in the twenty-first century.

Chadwick Allen is professor of English and adjunct professor of American Indian studies at the University of Washington. He is author of Blood Narrative: Indigenous Identity in American Indian and Maori Literary and Activist Texts and Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies (Minnesota, 2012).


Introduction: Indigenous Earthworks within (and without) the White Imaginary

Part I. Effigies // Crossing Worlds // Above and Below

1. Serpent Sublime, Serpent Subliminal

2. River Revere

Coda 1: Earth Bodies in Motion

Part II. Platforms // Networking Systems // Cardinal Directions

3. Walking the Mounds

Coda 2: Walking the Mounds at Aztalan

Part III. Burials // Gathering Generations // Center

4. Wombed Hollows, Sacred Trees

5. Secured Vaults

Coda 3: Trans-worlds Performance

Conclusion: Earthworks Uprising