Winter Lecture Series

The second installment of the 2019 Winter Lecture Series is “The Embedded Nature and Context of Symbols in the Cahokia Cosmogram,”  by John E. Kelly, PhD, Washington University.  This will take place February 10, 2019, 2:00 pm in the Interpretive Center Auditorium.

“Cahokia and other Mississippian towns not only mirror the multi-layered nature of the cosmos, but also provide the cultural context for symbols fundamental to the various institutions and cults and their practices.  This presentation examines the configuration of Cahokia as expressed in the design of its epicenter of Monks Mound surrounded by four plazas and the way this cosmogram accentuates and reinforces various symbolic elements, such as the circle and the square, which are also evident in other more portable media such as copper plates and marine shell gorgets and cups.”

This event is brought you by the Cahokia Mound Museum Society and the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. This is a free event and no preregistration is required.

Book Signing: Gayle J. Fritz on January 20

Gayle Fritz is professor emerita at Washington University in St. Louis, having retired recently after more than three decades of teaching archaeology and ethnobotany. She has worked at archaeological sites ranging in age from the Archaic to the Historic period, and analyzed plant remains from sites as far west and south as Chihuahua, Mexico, and as far east as North Carolina. Her research focuses on plant domestication, agricultural intensification, and changing foodways across eastern North America, including the fertile American Bottom region, home to ancient Cahokia and other Mississippian mound centers.

Gayle J. Fritz, PhD will be at Cahokia Mounds on January 20 at 3:00 pm to sign her new book, now available for purchase, “Feeding Cahokia: Early Agriculture in the North American Heartland.”

From the Alabama Press catalog and Feeding Cahokia book jacket:

“This book presents evidence to demonstrate that the emphasis on corn has created a distorted picture of Cahokia’s agricultural practices. Farming at Cahokia was biologically diverse and, as such, less prone to risk than was maize-dominated agriculture. Gayle J. Fritz shows that the division between the so-called elites and commoners simplifies and misrepresents the statuses of farmers – a workforce consisting of adult women and their daughters who belonged to kin groups crosscutting all levels of the Cahokia social order….


This highly accessible narrative…highlights the biologically diverse agriculture system by focusing on plants, such as erect knotweed, chenopod, and maygrass, which were domesticated in the midcontinent and grown by generations of farms before Cahokia Mounds grew to be the largest Native American population center north of Mexico.  Fritz also looks at traditional farming systems for strategies that would be helpful to modern agriculture, including reviving wild and weedy descendants of these lost crops for re-domestication.  With a wealth of detail on specific sites, traditional foods, artifacts such as famous figurines, and color photos of significant plants, Feeding Cahokia will satisfy both scholars and interested readers.”


The Book Signing will be held in the lobby of the Interpretive Center, immediately following the 2:00 pm Winter Lecture Series presentation.

For more information, call 618-346-5160.


Site Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

Cahokia Mounds Museum Society (CMMS) is one the recipients of a Digital Projects for the Humanities grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).  This $100,000 grant will be used to develop a functional prototype of an augmented reality application that will be available for smart phones and other platforms and an educational website, slated to be released in 2020.   Using the application, as visitors look through the lens of their device from the top of the 10-story Monks Mound, GPS tracking will identify hotspots which, when activated, will enable visitors to “see” structures once visible on the pre-Columbian landscape superimposed on the modern landscape.  In addition, an educational website will include video and other content about the ancient site and its associated sites.

We are thankful to Schwartz & Associates Creative, St. Louis, who has worked tirelessly to bring this concept to fruition.   Once the multi-year project is complete, the Site will have cutting-edge technological interpretive tools that will enhance visitor experience by giving them the opportunity to visualize what the ancient site may have looked like.


Due to the weather and the condition of the trails, for the safety of our participants, we have cancelled the 5K this morning.  A make up race will be planned next week.  You can still pick up your packet if you like between 8 and 9 this morning, or all day on Wednesday, November 7.  Thank you for support and understanding!

Original Performance to Celebrate Bicentennial

Sparks will fly in this recreation of a dramatic debate between our Territorial Governor Ninian Edwards and Potawatomi Chief Gomo on Saturday, November 17 at 2:00 pm.   The program will be held in the auditorium at Cahokia Mounds.   Two hundred years ago, as the original thirteen colonies were bursting at the seams, as early pioneers came flooding over the Alleghenies, and the tribes of the east were being pushed to the west, as Illinois was struggling to become a state, there were a series of events that are often left out of our history books.  Yet these events were pivotal in forever shaping our state history and influencing our nation’s relations with Native Americans.  From the War of 1812 to the burning of the French Village of Peoria and the Fort Dearborn Massacre in Chicago, this engaging program will challenge the audience to reconsider what they think they know about Illinois’ story.

Brian “Fox” Ellis is a storyteller, author and historian.  He is of Cherokee descent and strives to give voice to many of the characters left out of our history books.   The performance is part of a state wide tour Retracing Edwards Trace.  It is funded by Humanities Illinois and the Forgotten Illinois Grant.

Site Receives Employee Community Fund of Boeing Grant

We are very happy to announce that the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society has received a generous grant from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing (ECF of Boeing)  in support of our Native American Culture Series.   This grant will fund a 2-day cultural event by The Chickasaw Nation Dance Troupe.  The event will take place October 13 and 14 at Cahokia Mounds.  The troupe will begin at 10 am with storytelling, followed by a Stomp Dance demonstration (including a social dance for visitors to join).  At 1 pm, there will be a Stickball demonstration and social game, followed by Storytelling at 2, Stomp Dance at 3, and Stickball at 4.   The Chickasaw Dance Troupe, traveling to Cahokia Mounds from Ada, Oklahoma, are very happy to share their culture with visitors and welcome questions and participation.   This is a free event.  It is a wonderful interactive community outreach event to learn about Native American traditions and the Chickasaw culture.

Cahokia Mounds is very grateful for the support from ECF of Boeing of our Native American Culture Series.   The ECF of Boeing has chapters nationwide with employees donating to this fund to make a difference in their communities.   For over 60 years,  the ECF has changed lives across the country.  Over 4,000 nonprofits count on ECF for funding each year.

For more information on the Chickasaw Nation Cultural Event, contact 618-346-5160, or 618-344-7316.

The Young Spirit Dancers Dance Troupe

Brought to you by the Nebraska Urban Indian Health Coalition, this dance troupe will perform at Cahokia Mounds on August 8.  There will be two 30-minute performances; at 1 pm and at 3 pm.   This group was the first Native American youth group to perform at the Gallup Inter-tribal Ceremonial held at Gallup, NM in 2013.  Since that time, they have had many notable performances including being the first Native American group to perform at Disneyland in 2014 and the National Museum of the American Indian in 2017.   There is no registration or fee to attend this event.

City of the Sun 5k Trail Run

The annual City of the Sun 5K Trail Run will take place on November 4, 2018.   This is a unique opportunity to run a 5K Trail course on a US National Historic Landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site.   The course begins and ends at the Interpretive Center but traverses some of the cultural and natural areas of the site.  You’ll pass through grassy fields, around mounds, through the wooded areas, and through The Grand Plaza.   Custom sun medals will only be awarded to the top 3 finishers in each category and to the overall winner in women’s and men’s category.  You will receive a souvenir T-Shirt with your registration.   Divisions are 19 and under, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70 and up.  Timing provided by Toolen’s Running Start, Shiloh, IL.  We also hold a 1 Mile walk on the sidewalk around the Twin Mounds.  We offer custom medals to the top 5 walkers.  You can register at  There is a cap on this race and it has been reached for the last two years, so please register early.  For more information contact Lori at or call 618-344-7316.

Call for Papers

Cahokia Mounds is hosting a Mississippian Conference, which will take place July 28, 2018 from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, at Cahokia Mounds, Interpretive Center Auditorium.  Presenters should submit an abstract, with presentation title and your institutional or other affiliation, to Bill Iseminger ( or Mark Esarey (, or mail to us at 30 Ramey St., Collinsville, IL 62234.   Registration will be $5, payable at the door.  The conference is open to the public. Presentations will be 15-minutes on any topic relevant to Mississippian or related research.  Lunch will be on your own from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm.  We will provide a laptop and projector, so you can bring your presentation on a flash drive.  For more information, call 618-346-5161.

Contemporary Indian Art Show

Cahokia Mounds is hosting the Contemporary Indian Art Show July 14-15, 2018.   26 Native American artists from around the country will be here to submit two pieces of art into the Art Contest and sell their original art. Hours are 9-5 Saturday and Sunday.  The Art Show is a free event to attend.   The Opening Reception is a ticketed event that will take place Friday, July 13 at 6:30 pm, before the show opens to the public.   During the reception, you will be able to mix and mingle with the artists while enjoying music, drinks, and light hors d’oeuvres.  Vote for the People’s Choice Award, which will be given during the Award Ceremony.  Tickets for this can be purchased on Eventbrite, on our website page, by phone, or by visiting the Gift Shop.  A list of the artists can be found on the event page of the website, or on our facebook event page.  For more information, call 618-344-7316.  Tickets are $17 for Society Members, and $20 for Non Members.

Purple Martins at Cahokia Mounds

Visitors are invited to Cahokia Mounds for a program by John Miller on Purple Martins on Saturday, June 9, 2018 from 10 – 11 AM. Local members of the St. Louis Audubon Society and the Purple Martin Conservation Association will talk about the natural history of the migratory birds, including their total dependency on human-provided housing, and will provide tips on hosting them. Meet at the large rack of nesting gourds on the parking lot south of the visitor’s center. The rack of gourds will be lowered briefly to demonstrate a nest check of the baby Purple Martins. Information about Purple Martins will be handed out. This event is free and open to the public.

Kids Day

This Sunday, May 20 from 11 am through 4 pm, is Kids Day at Cahokia Mounds.    Enjoy hands on activities such as making a clay pinch-pot, throwing spears with an atlatl, and  playing Indian games like corn darts or Chunkey.  Learn about the ancient city with demonstrations, storytelling, and activities.   Get your free souvenir Kids Day photo by TapSnap.  Favorite St. Louis food truck “The Cheese Shack” will be here selling a great variety of grilled cheese sandwiches.   This is a free event, shuttles will be running between the site and the Grandpa’s parking lot across the street.  This is a free event, however there is a donation box in the lobby to contribute to the site’s expenses.  For more information call 618-346-5160.

Native American Storytelling May 5

Gayle Ross will be at Cahokia Mounds on May 5 at 2 pm as part of the 36th Annual St. Louis Storytelling Festival.  This Festival is sponsored by the University of Missouri – St. Louis.  Gayle is a descendent of John Ross, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation during and after the infamous Trail of Tears of the late 1830s.  Her grandmother told stories, and Gayle’s storytelling springs from this rich heritage.   During the past 20 years, she has become one of the most respected storytellers to emerge from the current surge of interest in this timeless art form.  She has appeared at most major storytelling and folk festivals in the United States and Canada and in concert halls and theaters throughout the U.S. and Europe, often with some of today’s finest Native American musicians and dancers.   To learn more about the UMSL Storytelling Festival, visit;  for more information about the storytelling event at Cahokia Mounds, call 618-346-5160.

Easter Weekend

Cahokia Mounds will be open Easter weekend, March 31 and April 1, regular hours of 9 am to 5 pm.

Winter Lecture Series March 11

“Copper Working in the Eastern Woodlands of North America From the Prehistoric to the Early Contact Period” by Kathleen Ehrhardt, Ph.D.

The final installment of the 2018 Winter Lecture Series will take place March 11, 2 PM in the Interpretive Center Auditorium.  This is a free event.  Space is limited.

Native groups of the Eastern Woodlands of North America have been using copper for nearly 7,000 years.  When Europeans arrived, they eagerly accepted foreign-derived copper and brass.  For many Eastern Woodlands groups, copper was an exotic and valued raw material, serving practical, but primarily social and symbolic purposes.  It figured prominently in long distance trade and exchange, mortuary and ritual ceremonialism, and as personal adornment and status markers.  In this presentation, Ehrhardt focuses on how native copper was used by the Old Copper Complex, Havana and Scioto Hopewell, Mississippian cultures.  She will examine the objects, technologies, and uses of copper, how archaeologists source the copper, and understanding how and in what contexts it was used.  She will also consider its importance as a European trade commodity in the early years of native-European interaction.

Kathy Ehrhardt, earned her MA in anthropology from Montclair State University and her PhD in anthropology from New York University.  She has done significant archaeological field work in the New York City area, the Illinois River Valley, in southwestern France, and the Illiniwek Village in northeast Missouri, which was the basis for her dissertation.  Her work has broadened to include copper use in late prehistory and in the Mississippian and she is now focusing on Mississippian copper working and ritual use.


Winter Lecture Series February 18

The second installment of the series takes place on February 18 at 2:00 pm in the Interpretive Center Auditorium.   In this presentation, Dr. David Dye, Professor of Archaeology in the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Memphis, will present, “The Lower Mississippi Valley Dark Ages:  Deities, Rituals, and Trade”.   When the Hernando de Soto expedition crossed the Mississippi River in 1541, they discovered numerous towns and extensive fields scattered along meandering rivers and oxbow lakes.  However, Marquette and Joliet, in their descent of the river in 1673, found an empty land devoid of the once prosperous chiefdoms, with the exception of the recently arrived Quapaw.  The years sandwiched between the Spanish conquistadores and French explorers has been a poorly known “Dark Age” for archaeologists.  On-going analysis of locally crafted ritual ceramics and introduced exotic goods, especially marine shell and symbolic weaponry, is beginning to help unveil the Lower Mississippi Valley’s turbulent history.  In this talk, Dye argues for links with the early fur trade, which transformed Mississippian society, but also contained the seeds for its demise by the mid-seventeenth century.

Winter Lecture Series Kicks off January 28

The Winter Lecture Series is an annual winter event at Cahokia Mounds.  One lecture is held per month in January, February, and March.   These are generally one hour presentations on topics related to archaeology or Cahokia Mounds, followed by a brief Q&A period.  The lectures are free and are held in the Interpretive Center auditorium at 2 pm.   This series is brought to you by the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society.

The first lecture will be held on January 28 when Mark Wagner, PhD presents his lecture titled, “Bound to the Western Waters:  Searching for Lewis and Clark at Ft. Kaskaskia, Illinois.”  Fort Kaskaskia is a 1750s French state historic site in Randolph County, Illinois,  that has long been believed to have been the site of a later American fort of the same name from which Lewis and Clark recruited 12 soldiers for their expedition to explore the American west in 1803.  SIU Carbondale archaeological field school investigations at Ft. Kaskaskia in 2017 revealed that it indeed is a 1750s French fort but found no evidence that it had ever been visited by Lewis and Clark.  Instead, we discovered the remains of the American Ft. Kaskaskia (1802-1807) on a separate hill top 300 m to the north.  In this talk, Wagner discusses the history and archaeology of the two forts and plans for additional field school investigations at both sites in 2018.

Mark Wagner is the Director of the Center for Archaeological Investigations (CAI) and an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.   His research interests include late eighteenth to early nineteenth century Native American and colonial period archaeology as well as the prehistoric Native American rock art of Illinois.

Employee Community Fund of Boeing Brings Performance to Collinsville

The First Nations women’s a cappella group Ulali will perform in Collinsville on March 24, 2018 at 6:30 pm.  This performance will take place at the Collinsville High School Auditorium and is made possible by a grant from the Employee Community Fund of Boeing and the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society.   Ulali is a First Nations women’s a cappella group whose sound encompasses an array of Indigenous music including Southeast United States choral singing and pre-Columbian music.  Their performance addresses Native American struggles as well as accomplishments.  Ulali has traveled throughout the United States, Canada, and abroad performing at venues like Woodstock 94, the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and the 1997 Smithsonian’s Folkways 50th Anniversary Gala at Carnegie Hall.  They were awarded the “Eagle Spirit Award” while attending the 25th Annual American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, CA in 2000 and were each one of several winners of the “Native American Women’s Recognition Award” presented by the Friends of Ganondagan in Rochester, New York.   Their video, “Follow Your Heart’s Desire” won “Best Music Video” at The American Indian Film Institute Awards.    This will be an unforgettable event.  Tickets are $20 or $18 for Society members.  Tickets can be purchased on line at or by calling 618-344-7316.

Annual Fund Drive 2017 Kicks Off!

The Annual Fund Drive is the only general appeal for funds per year.  The drive raises money for the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society (the support group at Cahokia Mounds). These funds are used to pay expenses for all events such as Kids Day, outreach efforts such as Archaeology Day, land acquisition, and the summer archaeology field school taking place at Cahokia Mounds. These funds are vital to the ongoing mission of the Society to preserve and interpret ancient culture at Cahokia Mounds. Please support the site with your donation. With your donation of $120 or more, you receive this T Shirt available only to Annual Fund Drive donors. It features the fenestrated gorget, made from lightning whelk and found at Cahokia Mounds in 1969 by Charles Bareis. For more information, call Lori at 618-344-7316, or visit our website at

Expedia lists Collinsville “Best Place for History Lovers”

Cahokia Mounds is listed as one of the featured destinations in the “Best Place for History Lovers” in Expedia’s “The Best U.S. Destination for Every Travel Style” list.  Collinsville, Illinois is listed as the destination with the best places to visit for history lovers.  Cahokia Mounds, Willoughby Heritage Farm and Conservation Reserve, and World’s Largest Catsup Bottle are listed as the premier destinations in Collinsville for history lovers.   Cahokia Mounds would like to thank the Collinsville Chamber of Commerce for their submission for this list of top destinations by Expedia! You can find the entire post here: