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December 7, 2021 31 mins
How did people create Cahokia, an ancient American Indian metropolis near present-day St. Louis? And why did they abandon it? Archaeologists are piecing together the answers—but Cahokia’s story isn’t finished yet. Hear how an Osage anthropologist is protecting the remaining burial mounds and sacred shrines so the descendants of Cahokia’s founders can keep its legacy alive. For more information on this episode, visit Want more? Learn more about Cahokia—and see depictions of America’s first city, as well as artifacts left behind—in National Geographic History. See more stunning finds that unlock our deepest history in the new book Lost Cities, Ancient Tombs: 100 Discoveries That Changed the World. Subscribers can read more about the two centuries of excavation on six continents that give voice to humanity’s forgotten past. Also explore: Why did people abandon Cahokia? New research rules out a theory that environmental degradation led to its demise and shows the limits of using a modern, Western lens to study the ancient city. Learn more about Picture Cave—the Osage “womb of the universe”—in the book Picture Cave: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Mississippian Cosmos by Carol Diaz-Granados and Jim Duncan. Osage photographer Ryan RedCorn has a message about American Indian culture: “The state of things is not in decline.” Grisly discoveries of unmarked graves at U.S. and Canadian boarding schools have forced a reckoning over government-funded programs that were designed to strip Native American children of their language and culture—and even their names. If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to to subscribe today. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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