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After Cahokia: Indigenous Repopulation and Depopulation of the Horseshoe Lake Watershed 1400 – 1900 CE

Lecture | September 26 | 12-1 p.m. | 101 2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)


AJ White, Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley

Archaeological Research Facility


The dynamic population history of the Cahokia archaeological complex has received significant academic attention for decades, but the subsequent repopulation of the region by indigenous groups is poorly understood. This study presents demographic trends from a fecal stanol population reconstruction of Horseshoe Lake, Illinois along with information from archaeological, historical, and environmental sources to provide an interpretation of post-Cahokia (> 1400 CE) population change. Fecal stanol data suggest regional population rebounded by 1500 CE, a post-Cahokia population maximum was reached by 1640 CE, and population was in decline by 1750 CE. The indigenous repopulation of the area coincides with environmental changes conducive to subsistence practices of the Illinois. Regional depopulation corresponds to a complicated period of warfare, epidemics, environmental change, and movement in the 18th century. The recognition of a post-Cahokia indigenous population helps form a narrative of Native American persistence over Native American disappearance.


arf-programs@berkeley.edu