Byline: Joel Palmer Daily Herald Staff Writer
If you want to see examples of past communities in DuPage County, you could go to Naper Settlement in Naperville or Kline Creek Farm in Winfield.
But if you want to see evidence of a community that goes way back, before European settlers came to the land that would become DuPage, you can go to a place called Winfield Mounds.
It is the site of a prehistoric American Indian village and three burial mounds. Overlooking a branch of the DuPage River near Winfield, the land is owned by the DuPage Forest Preserve District.
For the past several years Aurora archeologist Douglas Kullen has led annual tours of the site organized by the West Chicago City Museum.
It's hard to put a finger on when the mounds were built or when the village was inhabited. But judging by artifacts, people probably lived there in two different time periods - from 0 to 400 A.D. and from 800 to 900 A.D., Kullen said.
Who the inhabitants were is just as tricky a question.
The mounds, which originally were about 25 to 35 feet in diameter and 2 to 3 feet high, bear similarities to those of the "effigy mound" culture in southern Wisconsin.
The people of the effigy culture were so named because their mounds were made in the shapes of birds, bears and other animals. They were hunter-gatherers, and later, growers, who lived roughly from 500 A.D. to 1600 A.D. The people who lived at Winfield Mounds seem to have ties to this effigy culture, Kullen said.
Having studied artifacts from the site, Kullen said the place reminds us that the county's history doesn't begin simply with the settlers.
"I grew up in Downers Grove," Kullen said. "In reading about Indians, they were always out somewhere else, hunting buffalo and wearing feathers in the hair. You don't think of them as being in Illinois. …