Winter Lecture: Dr. Julie Zimmermann, “Storytelling in the Creation of Cahokia” ZOOM lecture


2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

The first installment of this year’s Winter Lecture series is by Dr. Julie Zimmermann. This lecture will take place January 16 at 2 pm on-line. Dr. Zimmermann discusses Cahokia as a state focused on storytelling. The abstract of Dr. Zimmermann’s lecture, “Storytelling in the Creation of Cahokia,” follows.

Dr. Zimmermann states, “I have argued that Cahokia might best be understood as the capital of a Native American theater state, which drew people to it and spread its influence by attracting followers through theatrical rituals. In current research I argue that storytelling was primary among those rituals. All humans define and create the perceived world through language and stories, and storytelling is a central ritual in oral societies, the foundation for all other rituals. Traditional Native American beliefs indicate that words form the world; contemporary Native American viewpoints also suggest that stories are essential and create the world. Cahokian stories were remembered and commemorated with Braden-style artworks made at and disseminated from Cahokia. Primary among these stories was that of a great hero who wore human head earrings. Other stories were told at Cahokia, but the stories of heroes are those most often depicted in Braden-style artworks found far from Cahokia. The dissemination of hero stories supports the notion that Cahokia was a state; heroic storytelling was central to the growth of the state. Cahokians created their world through stories, but it was through hero stories that they grew their authority in far-flung societies.”

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