Cahokia Mounds State Park
Student groups on Show Me State adventure will want to explore these mysterious mounds just a few miles outside St. Louis – one of them larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza - that invariably leave visitors pondering the ancient Native culture that came, grew and eventually flourished over centuries of occupation, calling the six-square-mile plains “city” home for nearly a thousand years before one day vanishing – some say without a trace, though it is likely the departure was gradual, as a starving and weakened people abandoned the once-bustling *world center* of Cahokia for better prospects, however slim.
A profusion of theories exist in support of distinct possibilities for their disappearance, including devastating weather patterns that eventually destroyed precious food sources, thereby decimating the population; documentaries and discoveries abound that deliver evidence the tribe’s very existence was predicated on a reliance on barbaric ceremonial practice believed to ensure the success of those all-important crops and the futures of the people: the satisfying of bloodthirsty corn deities with the regular human sacrifice of young maidens-possibly captives, but most probably terrified prisoners hand-selected from within the tribe and groomed for a torturous death. It is said that perhaps the vanishing of the people from the great City could be explained by the creation of a new, nomadic tribe, who continued with the same crop insurance rituals their forefathers practiced into the mid 19th century when they were forced onto a reservation and the atrocity of human sacrifice was outlawed.
Whatever you choose to believe when you visit, the common denominator in every guest experience is the awe-inspiring presence of mounds of many sizes in three distinct shapes constructed by exhausted workers hauling endless baskets of earth from the surrounding countryside, leaving obvious depressions in the ground around them called “borrow pits.” Come, see and consider the mounds and other authentic remains of this most sophisticated ancient civilization North of Mexico; listen to the secrets the prairie wind whispers.