Biloine W. Young A Day in CahokiaAD 1030 Biloine (Billie) Young lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is involved there in a number of cultural and civic activities. She is also the founder of Centro Colombo Americano, an educational and cultural center in Cali, Colombia. Among her published books areCahokia: The Great Native American Metropolis;Mexican Odyssey: Our Search for the People's Art;A Dream for Gilberto: An Immigrant Family's Struggle to Become American; andThree Hundred Years on the Upper Mississippi. In this essay Billie Young takes an imaginary journey to the Mississippi River metropolis of Cahokia in the summer of 1030. It is an unforgettable experience. *** A Day in CahokiaAD 1030 One of the first discoveries made by the Spanish who came to the New World following Columbus was that the Americas were filled with people living in advanced civilizations. Cortez and his men were astounded, in 1519, at the sight of the Aztec Tenochtitlan, a city of 300,000 that was larger, cleaner, and more efficiently managed than any in Europe. The sight was so extraordinary that the superstitious soldiers thought they had been enchanted "on account of the great towers and pyramids and buildings rising from the water, and all built of masonry." Houses, shaded with cotton awnings, were "well made of cut stone, cedar, and other fragrant woods, with great rooms and patios, all plastered and bright." The Europeans would have been even more amazed if they had known that five hundred years earlier the Indians of North America had also established a metropolisa planned urban center housing tens of thousands. Located on the American Bottom, where the Missouri, the Illinois, and the Kankakee rivers flow into the Mississippi, the Indian city we call Cahokia culturally dominated a densely populated region from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Rockies to the Appalachians. Cahokia was based on corn agriculture, a compelling belief system, and a trading network that spanned half the continent. Cahokia is unique in North America because of its geographic reach, the skills of its builders and astronomers, and the sophistication of its culture. Cahokia is one of the few places in the world where a complex level of social organization evolved without the impetus of outside conquest or diffusion. Strangely, the Toltecs of Mexico, the Anasazi of the American Southwest, and Cahokia have almost identical trajectories. All rose and fell at the same time but only the Toltecs were preceded by another complex civilization. Because the Anasazi left buildings of stone their culture may appear to have been more sophisticated than that of Cahokia. It was not. The Cahokia phenomenon was much greater. Cahokia dominated the heart of North America for approximately four hundred yearsfrom ad 900 to 1300. Yet the city had been abandoned for two centuries when the first Europeans arrived. Settlers saw only hundreds of mounds, somedespite centuries of erosionstill as high as ten-story buildings. They found it hard to believe these massive structures could have been built by the despised Indians and so theorized they had been constructed by someone elsethe Spaniards, perhaps, or the Vikings or descendants of Canaanite refugees from Palestine! Not until the second half of the twentieth century did archaeologists grasp the full extent of Cahokiaa Native American metropolis larger than any other city in North America until Philadelphia eclipsed it in 1800, a city whose downtown covered six and a half square miles with suburbs extending another fifteen miles in all directions, a city that was a destination for worshipping pilgrims. While Cahokia was flourishing in North America, London aHollinshead, Byron is the author of 'I Wish I'd Been There Twenty Historians Bring to Life the Dramatic Events That Changed America', published 2006 under ISBN 9780385516198 and ISBN 0385516193.