Patricia Cleary | St. Louis Public Radio

Patricia Cleary

This daguerreotype by Thomas M. Easterly shows the last of one of the final big mounds in St. Louis as it was being destroyed in 1869.
Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis

A multitude of truncated earthworks — more commonly known as mounds — once dotted the St. Louis landscape. For the ancient Mississippian people who constructed them many centuries ago, these structures were full of meaning and purpose.

The mounds also drew the interest of European newcomers to the region long after the mounds were built. But by the late 19th century, most of these sacred Native American places had been destroyed — the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Illinois, being a significant exception. 

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske talked with Patricia Cleary, a St. Louis native who is currently working on a book about the mounds that she plans to publish leading up to Missouri’s bicentennial celebration of statehood in 2021. Cleary’s visit came in advance of her James Neal Primm Lecture at the Missouri History Museum, set for Monday evening.