Congressman Mike Bost (IL-12) this week introduced a bill to create Cahokia Mounds Mississippian Culture National Historical Park.

Heartlands Conservancy thanks the congressman for his extraordinary leadership, along with the leadership and support of Congressmen Lacy Clay, John Shimkus, and Rodney Davis and Senator Dick Durbin.

In 2014, HeartLands Conservancy, in collaboration with Native American groups, archaeologists, agencies, and regional leaders, published the Mounds — America’s First Cities Feasibility Study. In preparation of that study, Heartlands worked with stakeholder and technical advisory committees and conducted 13 regional public meetings and met with numerous communities, stakeholders, and groups to gather input. The study concluded that the Mississippian Culture, with the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site as its hub, met all the criteria to be included as a unit of the National Park Service, and it further concluded that a collaborative partnership between the National Park Service and the State of Illinois would be both beneficial, suitable, and feasible for the future national historical park.

The greater Cahokia Mounds region was once the largest urban center in North America. Many Native American nations and tribes have origins in the Mississippian culture, and their stories and heritage must not be forgotten. HeartLands Conservancy will continue to advocate for this designation as the process continues through both the House and Senate through designation and establishment.

HeartLands Conservancy would like to acknowledge support from the Illinois leadership and General Assembly, and the efforts of native american tribes and nations, archaeologists, communities, St. Clair County, Madison County, the state of Illinois, and partner agencies and organizations across the region and country. Because of this groundswell of support, we are one step closer to elevating and preserving Cahokia Mounds and other mound groups of the Mississippian Culture for people to experience now and for generations to come through this bi-state national historical park.

HeartLands Conservancy engaged more than eleven Native American tribes and nations with origins in the Mississippian Culture in this effort. We thank them for their support and efforts, including, Absentee Shawnee Tribe, Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Eastern Shawnee Tribe, Loyal Shawnee Culture, Miami Tribe, Osage Nation/Tribe, Ottawa Tribe, Peoria Tribe, Ponca Tribe, and Quapaw Tribe.

Archaeologists from across the country and the states of Missouri and Illinois participated by either being involved through their documentation research, findings, conferences, or through the technical advisory team. Individuals were from Washington University in St. Louis, University of Illinois, SIUE, the IAS- Illinois Archeological Survey, the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, and former National Park Service archaeologists.


Between 1000 and 1200 AD, the Mississipians built hundreds of earthen mounds and established what is today known as Cahokia Mounds, an Illinois State Historic Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Mississippians established numerous satellite villages and mound groups throughout southern Illinois and the St. Louis region and established a complex trading system that stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. Greater Cahokia grew to become the largest city in North America for hundreds of years.

Cahokia Mounds today is under-designated. The Cahokia Mounds Mississippian Culture National Historical Park will be managed collaboratively between the National Park Service, the State of Illinois – who owns Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site – and other entities. The effort also includes significant mound sites in both southwestern Illinois and eastern Missouri.