As Indian groups started to settle in the Mississippi floodplain, their cultures and political systems began to intertwine, creating a complex sociopolitical structure (Page, 70). The largest polity to arise out of this area, known as the American Bottom, was Cahokia. At its height, it resembled a city, extending over five square miles, mounds and structures that towered over smaller dwellings, and a population, that some believe to have been the largest, north of Mexico, for its time (Page, 70). Estimates predict several thousand lived at the site of Cahokia, many of them elites, whose particular talents or skills, earned them the privileged title (Pauketat). Beyond its boundaries were smaller groups and communities, whose specialized trades fueled this prestige-goods economy. Their numbers totaled as high as fifteen times that of the city, and extended up and down the floodplain, spanning roughly sixty-four miles (Page, 71).
Today, the make up of a city remains incredibly similar to what was found at the site of Cahokia and the span of the American Bottom. The land area that a city covers varies tremendously, the building typically soar over family homes, and city populations and permanence remains as fluid as before. The village I live in resembles Cahokia, and the surrounding areas, in many ways.
Just as Cahokia was the center of the floodplain area, and the place that housed the political and religious elite, Syracuse is our comparable city, where major governmental and economic decisions are made. As one moves away from the city, the homes become more scattered, the communities are smaller, and the populations are less dense. Similar to the smaller communities of the floodplain, we, in the village of Carthage, often rely on the city's goods and major companies, but local farmers serve us in the most vital ways, supporting daily needs of produce and animal goods.
Similarly to our local farmers, Cahokia was...
Cited: Page, Jake. "In the hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000-Year Hisotry of American Indians." New York, 2004.
Pauketat, Timothy R. "The Reign and Ruin of the Lords of Cahokia: A Dialectic of Dominance." University of Illinois Urgana-Champaign.
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