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Transcript of Ancient Cahokia
Articles speak of Cahokia as a civilization with a defined social structure ruled by a chief. This head of the Cahokians, the so-called Great Sun Chief was the one “who ruled the earth and spoke to the sky”and he was given his religious and government control by his birthright. His counselors were members of the elite class, that is priests and chieftains.
Cahokian life included a great deal of music, song, and dance.They regularly engaged in games of chance and skill. In their free time, they played shell guessing games, gambled with dice, and amused themselves by attempting to catch hollow bones on the tips of pointed stick to which they were tethered. The premier sport at Cahokia was chunkey, a contest in which two players threw javelins at a rolling, concave stone, attempting to mark the place where it would come to a stop.
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Cahokia Mounds is located in Collinsville, Illinois. Cahokia Mounds is just fifteen minutes east of St. Louis, Missouri.
By 1000 A.D., the indian in and around Cahokia Mounds was exhibiting a host of characteristics, which was later to become common among Indian societies along the major river drainages throughout the Midewest . Not surprisingly this has been termied the Mississipian culture.
Black ruin had fallen on Cahokia, when in 1783, the first crude church, that served the inhabitants of this little hamlet was destroyed by fire. Despair settled upon the entire community, and though the spirit of religion was not lost, or appreciably diminished, sixteen long years passed before an earnest attempt was made to build a new church edifice.
Besides fishing, hunting, and the gathering of berries and other plants, Cahokians grew corn. Cahokia’s corn-based economy was one chief reason that allowed many people to live in one place.
Crops cultivated by Cahokians were diverse, and included corn, chenopodium, knotweed, maygrass, little barley, marsh elder, sunflower, squash, gourd, tobacco, and perhaps amaranth. In addition, they probably tended wild bean, panic grass, and black nightshade; they may have also grown persimmon and sumac trees.
A chief is often viewed as god-like serving as the medium for communication with the supernatural in the upper and lower worlds (see below). As such, the elite will manipulate religious beliefs and world view to gain social control for themselves, their family or the chiefly corporate group.
To say that the rise of Mississippian Culture in A.D. 1050 was a unique event in Illinois history is to severely understate the complex’s significance. Cahokia was the first cultural manifestation of its kind in the western hemisphere north of Mexico. All at once, the fairly large Late Late Woodland site of Cahokia went from a population of 1000-2000 to an unprecedented full-blown city of more than 10,000, complete with a bustling metropolitan area of suburbs and farmsteads (Pauketat 2004). Building styles changed, as did the settlement patterns. In addition, a complex authoritarian government arose, which was a major change from the still largely nomadic and politically uncontrolled Woodland lifestyle. Thus, when the somewhat simple Old Cahokia of the Late Late Woodland era transformed into the culturally and politically complex Middle Mississippian Cahokia nearly overnight, lives of Native Americans changed permanently. While it is true that many conditions must have led to the aforementioned drastic alterations, the foremost factor in these changes was the rise of maize agriculture.
Cahokia, the largest settlement north of central Mexico ever built before Columbus arivved, flourished for three centuries before it was abandoned. Estimates of its peak population run from 10,000 to 20,000. Cahokia’s merchants traded across much of North America, from the Gulf Coast northward to the Great Lakes, eastward to the Atlantic coast and westward to Oklahoma. Cahokia spread the Mississippian culture across much of North America.