And it’s not in Missouri but in Illinois just across the river from St. Louis. There REALLY used to be a racetrack there and a civilization that existed up to the arrival of Columbus.
Okay okay…it’s not Roman but it’s just as grand. And there is a museum now that shares everything about these people. And it is freaking awesome. I’ve been to Mound 52 where it all started. And there is so much more about Cahokia that the article does not share. I almost feel like I discovered it…but didn’t.
It all started with a book. People of the River by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W.Michael Gear. This is a fantastic book written by these two social archaeologists. I had read it and was so totally entranced that when my hubby and I went to St Louis, I told him I wanted to go see this site. So we did.
We were stunned. This civilization stretched at one time from the Canadian border all the way down to New Orleans and its capital city was there at Cahokia. It was their DC. It was found by accident when a subdivision was going to build a new subdivision here and during the development, the workers uncovered Mound 52 with all these ancient relics. Wow.
They stopped and called in historians from the local universities of Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, and many other places and the construction halted. Some of the developed homes were torn down and planned streets were removed. One home was kept but it was for maintenance workers. This amazing relic was saved.
A major highway already cut through this precious site…right by an ancient pyramid that is so Aztec it’s not funny. This pyramid even survived the major earthquake that struck St Louis years ago and barely dropped a clump of dirt because it was so well built. However, the developers thought it was in the way and had planned to level it.
Also, there was a ‘wooden’ henge like Britain’s Stonehenge. Stumps of wooden pillars remain in the ground where there once was a circular structure that modeled somewhat of the same design. And not too far away is a fraction of the wall that surrounded the elite area remains. Joe and I touched it.
Joe and I were escorted through the site by a guide. Now I had read PEOPLE OF THE RIVER and felt as if I were walking in through this book. Joe and the guide were just walking along, chatting between the ‘twin mounds’ that the Gears so perfectly described and gave life to, that I could almost see life on those hills. I could easily imagine the Sun God upon that ancient pyramid. In fact, Joe and I walked up to pay the guy a visit and looked down on the cars whizzing by on the interstate.
Now, as we walked between the ‘twin hills’ and onto this ‘Chunkey’ playing field, I swear I heard the main characters talking about whether they should use me as a target for their playing puck. Now I knew this was my imagination talking…right? Well, they would not shut up!
It was so real to me I had to turn around and look back. Oh did they laugh at me? Seriously, I can still hear them laughing today in what seems a million years ago. Maybe it was. But, I still get goosebumps by just remembering walking this site. I am so happy to learn from this article that UNESCO has this site under protection. It is precious.
A plug for Kathleen and Michael Gear…they write a magnificent series ‘People of the….. about OUR Native American people. If you love this history, DO NOT miss out on any one of their stories.
People of the River