cahokia mounds state historic site

I mentioned awhile back a Fall 2012 trip to the St. Louis area, and our time at Graham Cave State Park. I also mentioned visiting Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. Cahokia is an area settled by Native American Indians near the Mississippi River. This area is comprised of Indian mounds, think pyramids only built with dirt, not stone. My children and I studied early American History in school last year, and after learning about Indian mounds (which I had never heard of previously) I researched to see if there were any in the area. Once I found the Cahokia mounds just across the Missouri state line into Illinois, I knew a weekend trip was in order.

Just think of these mounds as a way of organizing life for a large group of people. These people were tent dwellers, but the mounds were a way of separating the people into manageable groups. This group of Native Americans were not nomadic. They were stationary because the Mississippi flood plane provided rich soil for growing crops and creating a settled life.

A replica of what the border for the Cahokia area would have looked like.

A replica of the remains of wood poles discovered.
Researchers believe this circle of poles was used as a sun dial.

Monks Mound was the largest of the mounds.
It is 100 feet high and over 700 feet wide;
it's base size is comparable to the Great Pyramid at Giza
(which I find astounding!)
It is believed to be where the chief would have lived.
The mound is named after two French trappist monks
who settled there in the early 1800's.

The elevation of Monks Mound also provided the Native Americans
with a way to see for miles and miles,
a way to see the weather at a distance
and protecting themselves from 
oncoming enemies.

If you look very closely you can see the Arch in the distance.

Our total time at this site was probably just under three hours.
We had the experience of climbing Monks Mound,
viewing the sun dial and border.
We browsed the visitor's center where we viewed 
an astounding amount of Native American artifacts
and a wonderfully informative video
about the area and the people. 

Reading, studying are powerful ways of learning,
but then when you get a hands-on experience
it's a wonderful way to enhance the concepts learned from books.