Saint Louis, MO

The story of Native American in St. Louis

Tyrone Wallace

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ST. LOUIS, MO – Long before the explorers and pioneers came to St. Louis, there were 20,000-people thrived in the region, home of an enormous city named Cahokia from AD 700 until after AD 13,000. However, the great city of Mound Builders was abandoned when European explorers mapped the Mississippi River in the 1500s.

The history of the civilization of Cahokia Mound can be seen and discovered at the Cahokia Mound State Historic Site and Interpretive Center in Illinois.

At the museum, view the largest of the surviving earthen structures, the Monk’s Mound, and see 2,200 acres of the United Nations World Heritage below. The Cahokia Mound Museum also offers events for visitors to get to know more about the heritage of these native Americans.

Half an hour from the south of Downtown St. Louis, you can visit the Mastodon State Historic Site in Imperial, Missouri, and explore the relationship between the Ice Age mammals and the prehistoric Native American tribes that hunted them. 

The prehistoric period is after the French, the Missouri, and Osage tribes arrived and dominated the St. Louis region. By the 1820s, most of the tribes moved to the west.

The forced march of the Cherokee nation from the East Coast to the Indian Territory of the West, known as The Trail of Tears, brought more Native Americans through Missouri.

The Native Americans in St. Louis now often gather at powwows from different tribes to dance and hold other activities throughout the year. Today, there are about 3,500 Native Americans living in the St. Louis area.

During the opening of the West, visitors could view the Native American experience from the Museum of Westward Expansion at the Gateway Arch. You can also see the highlights, such as an animatronic figure of Chief Red Cloud and the exhibition of Indian Peace Medals.

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