Historical Cahokian People


Photo by Hemera Technologies

Historical Cahokian People On The Wisconsin Great River Road

ENTER TO WINThe Wisconsin Great River Road has many unique stops dedicated to preserving and recognizing Native American history along the Mississippi River. These places and landmarks help teach about the history of communities along the river and the groups of people who inhabited and lived in these areas long ago. One such group is the Cahokian people who settled along the Mississippi a thousand years ago and created a thriving civilization, leaving behind traces of their culture and traditions. Today, you can visit several locations while traveling the Great River Road to learn about the Cahokia and view the places they left behind.

History Of Cahokia
Before the Cahokian people moved north along the Mississippi to the state of Wisconsin, they inhabited the ancient settlement of Cahokia near Collinsville, Illinois. Cahokia was the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico during this time period and was larger than London was in AD 1250. The inhabitants of Cahokia were called Mississippians, and they were accomplished builders who were able to erect a variety of structures like practical homes and monumental public works. For unknown reasons the Cahokian people traveled over 500 miles from Illinois to Wisconsin, settling along the Mississippi River.

Cahokia On The Wisconsin Great River Road
After leaving Cahokia, the Mississippians settled in the river road community we know today as Trempeauleau, Wisconsin. They used similar techniques as they had in Cahokia to create platform mounds on the bluffs above Trempealeau for religious ceremonies involving the sun. You can still see traces of their ancient communities today when you visit various sites, including evidence of pottery production, corn agriculture, and a vast trade network. Trempealeau is known to be the largest northern Mississippian outpost and you can view evidence of trade between the Cahokian people and their Woodland neighbors at various sites in the Great River Road.

Places To Learn More
Today, traveling the Wisconsin Great River Road can lead you to Cahokian sites, landmarks, and archeological sites. Many of these sites and places are near Trempealeau, where the Cahokian people once settled. The Shirley M. Wright Memorial Library is a great place to visit to learn more about Trempeaulea’s past, including Mississippian culture and the archeological processes used to discover these ancient communities.

Outdoor Spaces Of The Cahokia
If you’re interested in exploring the places where the Mississippians would have lived and worked, there are several outdoor sites on the Wisconsin Great River Road to visit. At The Little Bluff Mounds Interpretive Trail in Trempealeau you can enjoy the trailhead kiosk that shares the story of the Mississippian community, before heading up the trail to view the mounds at the top of the bluff and the interpretive signs that explain the archaeological dig and what was found on the site. Another place to check out is Perrot State Park. Many Native American people lived in this area 7,000 years ago, including the Cahokian people, and the park is full of information about these ancient communities. You can use interactive and interpretive displays to understand the park’s storied past, and you can stop at the Perrot State Park Nature Center for more displays.