COVID forces Cahokia Mounds to hold virtual celebration of Native American culture

National News

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. – Just across the river from the Gateway Arch you’ll find a series of mounds that tell the history of the world and the St. Louis region.

“It’s very important not only for our local history, but our regional history, and the history of America, in general,” said Lori Belknap, superintendent of the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. “The culture that lived here left about 1,000 years ago and when they left the site they moved into all directions. So, there’s many native Americans in the area that can claim ancestry back to here.”

This is the first year their annual celebration of Native American culture and hand-crafted items is being held virtually due to COVID restrictions.

Over 25 Native American artists selling their creations, hosted by the Cahokia Mounds Museum Society to raise funds for outreach and educational programs.

“Virtual Native American Holiday Market,” Belkamp said. “We normally have a live market starts after Thanksgiving and runs for three days. Sometimes we have 7,000 people here over that time. Because of the virus we are going virtual for that market. So, we’re still trying to make the items available to our supporters and our visitors.”

Through their CahokiaMounds.org website, you’ll be able to see live Zoom interviews with the artists and educational programing.

In addition, pottery, bead work, sculptures, and paintings at every price point.

The Mississippian culture lived here from 900 until they left the site around the year 1350.

But you can see for yourself, with safe social distancing, the story of the people that called this place home.

“The Osage, the Ponca, the Kansa, the Wapa,” Belkamp said. “Those are some contemporary tribes that we think can really trace their ancestry back here very clearly.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.