HeartLands Conservancy | St. Louis Public Radio

HeartLands Conservancy

Two of more than 70 ancient mounds protected at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site.
Cahokia Mounds World Heritage Site

Federal legislation to make Cahokia Mounds part of a new national park could soon be introduced in Congress, according to proponents of the plan.

Heartlands Conservancy, which has led the effort, has been working on the wording of the bill with the staff of U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, said Ed Weilbacher, vice president of the nonprofit based in Belleville.

The Cahokia Mounds and Mississippian Culture National Historic Park would also include ancient mounds in St. Clair and Madison counties and Sugarloaf Mound in St. Louis, the last remaining mound in the city.

Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site visitors can climb Monks Mound, which has more than 150 steps.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Assistant site manager Bill Iseminger stood at the base of 100-foot-high Monks Mound, bracing himself against an icy winter wind whipping across Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville. He was relating a story he’s told countless times: how the ancient Mississippians built the earthen mounds at Cahokia Mounds one basketful of dirt at a time.

Iseminger, 74, has worked at the site for 48 years and figures he’s climbed Monks Mound at least 1,000 times, though not as frequently in recent years.

Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

On a warm spring afternoon, Italian archaeology students from the University of Bologna were painstakingly sifting through mud from a pit they’re excavating at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville.

Heading the group is Imma Valese, 29, who’s been coming to Cahokia Mounds for six years. She has written her master’s thesis on the ancient Mississippian culture that thrived at Cahokia 1,000 years ago. Now, she’s working on her doctorate.