Posts Tagged ‘Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi. Timothy R. Pauketat’

CahokiaBirdman[1]Ruins clutter the landscape.  They disrupt farming, buildings, roads, dams, and taking possession of what you own or plan to own.  The rule is that if you cannot plow over it, then recycle it for building material.  And in the course of time when you’ve made your fortune, you will have time to travel to see the historical ruins in foreign places, those ruins now made profitable by tourists.  Tourism is a cultural blessing, but not in one’s own backyard.

Timothy R. Pauketat, secure in both research and field experience, has written Cahokia: Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi, an empire capital that held power over the middle of our country for 300 years beginning in 1050.  It is a cultural shame that we were late in recognizing the abandoned and forgotten city that degradation took all but a ghost of it away.  The degradation by time and nature combined with what western development did to it are understandable.  In its place we created St Louis MO, no small town accomplishment.  It is the Gateway To The West.

The error of today is that students, parents, political and cultural leaders–actually all of us regardless of where we live in America know so little about the empire that lives on in the culture and character of Native Americans.  We should be so proud of Cahokia that every student in America can tell the story.

Despite the poise with which Pauketat pulls the story together, it is very evident that he is a conductor presenting a symphony from a mangled, incomplete score.  Never mind, the music is wonderful and unique, not easy to hum but easy to appreciate.  Hopefully our government at all levels, our research universities, and our cultural foundations will give financial support to the professionals who can bring additional pieces of the musical score.

This is not Pauketat’s first effort to tell the Cahokia story as the footnotes make clear, and is meant for a general readership, the kind found off a university campus.  It is the latest in The Penguin Library Of American Indian History.  If the earlier titles measure up to this one, you may want to check out the series.  Read a couple of chapters, then try to get a pickup game of chunkey going.  You can email me from your hospital bed.  Charles Marlin

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