Baskets of Dirt: The Building, Excavation and Interpretation of Angel Mounds

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The story of the Works Progress Administration excavation of Angel Mounds in 1939 is more than a tale of 250 men unearthing over 2 million artifacts during the depression. It is about Native Americans nearly 1000 years ago who built huge mounds using baskets of dirt. They found that the site along the Ohio River was a good place to settle, as did the modern day family of farmers named Angel. It is a story of how modern archaeology came to Indiana led by the Indiana Historical Society and Indiana University. It is the story of Eli Lilly as mentor and father figure to Glenn Black, Indiana’s first archaeologist. And it is a story of the love and support from Ida May Black, the first lady of Indiana archaeology, which empowered Glenn Black to unearth so much Indiana history at Angel Mounds.

This story was researched, written and is told by professional storyteller Stephanie Holman. Her past commissions include Good Night and May God Bless: Red Skelton and Haunting the Aisles: The Ghost of Fowler Theatre. She is a past recipient of the Frank Basile Emerging Stories Fellowship. Stephanie works full time as a Community Engagement Librarian at the Monroe County Public Library and is a member of the Bloomington Storytellers Guild. Growing up on a dairy farm north of Bloomington, she knew a bit about the native people that lived in Indiana, was even able to touch the past with occasional arrowheads found on the land. But for Stephanie, the Angel Mounds story project has fully illustrated her place on the human timeline. As Glenn Black wrote we are “but a thread”. With a great deal of help from researchers at the Indiana Historical Society, the Glenn Black laboratory and the Angel Mounds State Historic Site, Stephanie has unearthed great characters, important moments of hard work and strong academia. She is eager to tell you the story. – source

This program is commissioned by the Indiana Historical Society and Storytelling Arts of Indiana.