Cahokia: The large North American metropolis that pre-dated Columbus | Boing Boing

Cahokia: The massive North American city that pre-dated Columbus | Boing Boing


People do not reckon with historical past properly, particularly in terms of the indigenous folks our forefathers displaced (and worse) to be able to stay on this land. Rising up in New Haven County, I keep in mind being taught quite a bit in regards to the native Quinnipiacks and different Algonquin peoples who as soon as inhabited the realm — however their story at all times sort of mysteriously (and conveniently) light away across the late 1700s. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized extra in regards to the American Indian Motion, and the way latest a lot of our nation’s abuses of Native People actually have been. I’ve additionally realized extra in regards to the precise beliefs and capabilities of a few of these indigenous nations, which hardly match the “Noble Savage” stereotypes which are typically thrown round.

But it surely was simply earlier this month that I realized about Cahokia (previously at BB), a metropolis constructed by the Mississippian folks close to modern-day St. Louis. As defined by National Geographic:

A couple of thousand years in the past, a metropolis grew within the floodplain often called the American Backside, simply east of what’s now St. Louis in Illinois. In a matter of many years, it turned the continent’s largest inhabitants middle north of Mexico, with maybe 15,000 folks within the metropolis correct and twice as many individuals in surrounding areas. A pair centuries after its beginning it went into decline, and by 1400 it was abandoned.

The story of Cahokia has mystified archaeologists ever since they laid eyes on its earthen mounds—scores of them, together with a 10-story platform mound that till 1867 was the tallest artifical construction in the USA. They do not know why Cahokia fashioned, why it grew so highly effective, or why its residents migrated away, leaving it to break down. Hypotheses are plentiful, however information are scarce.

Typical US historical past curriculums may acknowledge that Aztecs and Incans had some fairly cool cities. However there is definitely no point out of any city-like constructions within the modern-day United States. Quite the opposite: American historical past justifies so many atrocities explicitly on the grounds that indigenous People weren’t “civilized” sufficient to construct everlasting settlements (as if “permanence” is a proper requirement for being “civilized”).

As I now know, the remaining mounds of Cahokia are nonetheless an historic site in Missouri that you may go to. Hopefully, that signifies that a few of that Native American historical past is precisely taught in some elements of the realm — or a minimum of, that historical past academics acknowledge that there have been precise cities in North America lengthy earlier than Columbus “found” the continent by unintentionally crashing into an island within the Bahamas that shares the identical tectonic plate.

Anyway. You need to study extra about Cahokia should you aren’t already acquainted. This National Geographic piece is a good place to begin.

Why was the ancient city of Cahokia abandoned? New clues rule out one theory. [Glenn Hodges / National Geographic]

Picture: Public Area by way of Wikimedia Commons



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