Friday, August 7, 2009

The Cradle of North America

I love localized history. In college, I took the Illinois history class even though it was technically part of the social studies educator curriculum, simply because I was fascinated (and I knew the teacher would make it a trip worth taking). I've visited Cahokia twice now, and was the only person in that class, teacher included, who had been there. It's definitely a disorienting experience, because due to the simplified history given in public schools in this country we have a tendency to think of the North American native people as either hut-inhabiting or nomadic. The presence of this massive city (speculations are that it was approximately the size of MODERN London) down in the mid-western bottoms--just northeast of St Louis-- is really pretty mind blowing.

Which is probably precisely why it's so interesting. History book history is so bereft of the truths that history can show us, and the American narrative especially so.

New discoveries indicate even more complexity to this society that completely dissipated (died out or assimilated, but certainly collapsed) long before Europeans showed up around here. By the time any white person was here, the city was nothing but a few (admittedly massive) mounds of earth and a perplexing circle of deep holes that had mostly filled in.

Sacrificial virgins of the Mississippi | Salon Books

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