Indian burial mounds, also known as effigy mounds, share similar characteristics and can relate to Clifford Geertz’s definition of religion and how these burial chambers act as a system of symbols. The effigy mounds found throughout Wisconsin and into other neighboring sates seem to represent figures and symbols that can closely be related to spirits and other super natural beings. These images can be found in Native American pottery as well as in the figures of the effigy mounds. These figures of “long-tailed ‘water spirits’, who, in Native American belief systems, are often conceived as inhabiting a watery world under the earth” (Birmingham 107). In Native American beliefs, the rivers and streams are closely associated with concepts of rebirth and fertility, thus water spirits are highly regarded, because springs and rivers are thought to be entrances into the underworld.
The system of symbols Native Americans use in their beliefs, “acts to establish long lasting moods and motivations”, through their symbols clear evidence gives way for effigy mounds to be directly related to religious beliefs. The purpose of these mounds and ceremonies has motivated ancient American Indians to have built these shrines that pay homage to these super natural spirits. These spirits which evoke “lasting moods and motivations in men” that are seen by their diligence to produce these spiritual shrines. By their beliefs in the after life and the characters they made which represent spirits, which are directly associated with rebirth and fertility. These burial practices are made clear by the diffusion into other Native tribes across Wisconsin and through the mid-west. I think these monuments show clear strides moving towards early religion in North America. Shown by the evidence above, Geertz's definition proves these monuments/shrines as being signs of early religious practices.