Mississippi Montage

I was born on the Mississippi across the river from where there was once a city known as Cahokia. By the time Columbus arrived in the fifteenth century, the Cahokians had been overrun by other tribal groups, leaving rich farmlands and some one hundred-twenty mounds, some taller than the pyramids, where they'd worshipped the sun and studied the stars. By the time the Europeans invaded the middle of what is now called America, those mounds were the only trace of' Cahokia, and the people called Missouri-a Sioux name meaning "people with dugout canoes"-had cultivated the fields of Cahokia and set up a great trading center on the river. By the time the Europeans arrived, many of the Missouri were dead of European diseases that had spread by traders coming from the East Coast to the Mississippi. All that was left of their trade center were the corn fields and fruit trees. The Europeans cultivated the fields and set up a great trading center on the river. They called their city St. Louis. By the time I was born, all that remained of Cahokia were the mounds, tourists attractions that most folks who lived near the river did not even visit. Instead, they went to the city on the other side of the river, into what is now called Missouri, to the city called St. Louis. Now when the sun rises, it leaves the mounds of Cahokia and blesses the arch that stands on the St. Louis side of the river. And that river just keeps rolling along.

From Long Way from St. Louie by Colleen J. McElroy


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