My somewhat grouchy realization about people reporting on the Mound Builder civilization.

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I couldn’t figure out what was bugging me about the tone of this discussion of just what happened at the Mound Builder city of Cahokia.  After all, it’s interesting: there was once a large Native American city located at what is now St. Louis, Missouri; we don’t know that much about it; and it more or less disappeared without any kind of real clues about what happened.  This shouldn’t annoy me.

But then I read the last paragraph:

What’s fascinating is that this region along the Mississippi is an area that has been home to many cities, for hundreds of years. After all, St. Louis occupies the old footprint of Cahokia today. Perhaps, in another millennium, the archaeologists who occupy some future city in the area will be uncovering the old breweries and coal mines of St. Louis and wondering what happened to the people who worked in them.

…and then after I finished saying Well, maybe they’ll read/view/listen to some of the umpteen billion pieces of data that our culture has developed as a way to transmit information. The Mound Builders have an interesting mystery about them, but the brutal truth is that they were apparently illiterate, and thus vulnerable to this kind of cultural obscurity – I realized that what was bothering me was that the author of the article and I apparently have a fundamental disagreement on whether one society can be intrinsically superior to the other.  I mean, seriously: to the Mound Builders, 15K inhabitants was the Queen City, the greatest expression of their culture.  To me, it’s the population of the town where I went to high school.

So, yeah, apparently I’m a cultural chauvinist. …Well, somebody‘s got to be.

Moe Lane


  • Catseyes says:

    The beauty of the modern economy is that it didn’t have to spend time convincing people to participate the benefits were self evident, O’bama is destroying that. One can drop out live off the grid and in the wild, people did it for thousands of years. They are doing it now but in a premodern fashion living in the Grey Economy- cash only. Anybody besides me still remember how to forage?

  • Luke says:

    Nothing wrong with that. Neo-pagans often annoy the heck out of me by claiming belief in a version of my ancestors and their worship that has no relation to reality.
    My ancestors practiced human sacrifice, ritual cannibalism, and proudly kept the remains of defeated enemies as trophies. They were not nice people, and their religion (to the extent records survive and archeology indicates) was steeped in blood.

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