The Ancient Cahokia Future Visions conference brought native people, government dignitaries and archaeologists from around the country to talk about the importance of Cahokia, the first native city in the U.S., and to urge the inclusion of the 5.5 sq. mile archaeological site complex, and adjacent related sites, as a unit of the National Park Service. Over 200 attendees gathered to hear from experts and decision-makers in a one of a kind conference that included an augmented reality exhibit of the Emerald Acropolis (a site that is part of Greater Cahokia).
The conference was kicked off with a video welcome message from Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, who reaffirmed his support for Cahokia to become a National Park. Other government dignitaries included Illinois Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin. In 2016, Senator Durbin called on then President Barack Obama to nationalize Cahokia as part of the National Park Service.
Other speakers included Timothy Good from the National Park Service, Dr. Barbara Mills from the University of Arizona, University of Illinois alum Robert Hormell, and Marisa Cummings from the Omaha Tribe. Dr. Thomas Emerson, Illinois State Archaeologist and Illinois State Archaeological Survey Director, and Dr. Timothy Pauketat, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois and Senior Research Scientist at the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, were moderators and featured speakers at the conference.
“We were gratified by the unified enthusiastic response to the Cahokia Research Initiative by the academic community, government leaders, native peoples, and the public at large. It bodes well as we now move forward in our cooperative efforts to obtain national recognition for the first Native American city in what is now the United States,” said Dr. Thomas Emerson.
The Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS) unveiled the Cahokia Research Initiative at the conference. The Cahokia Research Initiative aims to help the public better understand the national importance and the impressive scale of Greater Cahokia. The initiative also hopes to regain the momentum from a 2016 effort to make Cahokia a unit of the National Park Service.
“The success of the Ancient Cahokia Future Visions conference has given us the much-needed momentum to make the recognition and preservation of America’s first city a reality. It will take a big collaborative push from all of us, but the stage has been set,” said Dr. Timothy Pauketat.
The Ancient Cahokia Future Visions conference was held on April 27, 2018 at the I Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign, IL. The conference was part of the University of Illinois sesquicentennial and was sponsored by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research. The Illinois State Archaeological Survey is part of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois.
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