The future of the Glenwood American Indian Earth Lodge, located across the street from the main entrance to Glenwood Lake Park, is in doubt.
Mold has infiltrated the log-framed, grass and mud-covered structure, forcing Mills County Public Health officials to close the facility off to public access.
“It’s kind of a dead end,” Glenwood Indian Earth Lodge Society vice president Joan Hammer said. “We can’t give people tours any more.”
Hammer said the earth lodge has been closed to visitors this past spring and summer, but limited access into the entryway of the structure was allowed during last weekend’s Keg Creek Days celebration.
A “Caution” sign hanging on the front of the earth lodge warned people with mold allergies not to enter. Earth Lodge Society president Ted Smith said the organization has no plans to remove or close the earth lodge. The society’s intention is to eventually turn the structure over to the archeological interpretive center being proposed for a site south of Glenwood.
“As far as we’re concerned, we’re not closing,” Smith said. “We’re waiting for the interpretive center to take over and then they can do whatever they want with it.”
Funding for the $6 - $7 million interpretive center is still being secured and construction could still be months or years away. The interpretive center would serve as an educational center for the study of the Glenwood Culture, the name designated to Native Americans of the Nebraska Phase of the Central Plains tradition that occupied southwest Iowa 600 - 900 years ago. The Central Plains tradition is an archaeological reference to similar sites dating back from about 900-1300.
The existing earth lodge is the second of its kind built on the site by the Earth Lodge Society. The original structure was built in 1992 and lasted 13 years. It was burned down in 2005 and replaced with the second replica earth lodge in 2006. Earth lodges have a normal life span of about 10 years. The Glenwood Indian Earth Lodge Society was formed in the late 1980s in an effort to recognize the archaeological significance of the Glenwood area, where numerous Native American artifacts and earth lodge sites have been discovered over the years.