Lee's visit to the Cahokia Mounds ... and more...





This "head pot" (not "pot head") is quite famous. I took this picture and created this icon....

by Bradford Lee Lewis
"Li Luyi"
Cahokia, Illinois

On July 7th, I made my first visit to Cahokia Mounds
(and hopefully not my last ... there's still so much more to see!)

I took over 200 pictures and most of them are all here for you to share. I have divided them into two groups. The first group are those pictures that I took inside the Interpretive Center. No flash photography was permitted since the UV from the flashes could be damaging to some of the ancient artifacts on display. Therefore, I had to use my camera with no flash, so some of the images may be a bit fuzzy. I also had to reduce them for internet purposes.

The second set of pictures were taken outside as I walked through what was once, a thousand years before, a thriving community of people who were at the height of their civilization while Europe was going through the Dark Ages. It was a moving experience and the photos do not capture the feeling, the depth, or the intensity of the visit. However... I tried my best...

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Click the Birdman of Cahokia to enter and see my photos of the exhibit...

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to view my photos of the exhibit...

The Interpretive Center

I arrived at the "The Interpretive Center" around 1:00pm after a surprisingly easy trip via the public transit system. Almost as soon as I am made my way through the massive metal doors, which are works of art on their own merit, I was pleasantly greeted a staff member. She informed me that one of the regularly scheduled 15 minute movies about the Cahokia Mounds was to start in about five minutes. So my little adventure began with a wide screen presentation with a front row seat. It was very informative and quite well done. It gave me a wonderful start into my tour. To the left of this narrative, you will see a button which I created from a photograph I took of "The Birdman" ... which Cahokia Mounds has adapted as its logo. Click on this button to enter my photographic tour of the displays presented within the Interpretive Center. Remember, no flash photography was permitted, so the quality could be better. Overall, however, I was not displeased.

Among the Mounds

After wandering among the many and varied exhibits within the Interpretive Center, it was finally time to make my way outside to experience the mounds themselves. I highly recommend going through the movie and exhibit before touring the actual mounds. This gives one a chance to become immersed in the history, and "flavour" of of the experience. Otherwise, I am sure, that for many the "mounds" are merely big grassy hills. However, with a little background information, one can use their imagination and sense the ancient history of the place and feel a sense of awe and wonder. For me, being mostly of indigenous American ancestry (Cherokee), it was something of a pilgrimage of sorts.

Briefly, my walk among the Mounds started with a small Mound just behind the Interpretive Center. I think this was mound #55, or "Murdocks Mound", but I am not sure. I then started to head East toward a mound I could see, but changed my mind and headed toward the "big one" ... Monk's Mound. I stopped first at an on-going excavation site. I was asked if I had any questions, but... no... I really did not. I took a few pictures at the site.

Then I headed across the highway, which seemed so out-of-place in this setting and began to climb the steps (provided for us touristy types). There were lots of young children on school trips (you may see them in the photos).

I climbed to the top (and my legs were feeling like
Jell-O!)... but it was not a bad feeling. I made it up to the third-most terrace where the Emperor, King, God or High-Poobah lived; he who once ruled most of this country! I stopped a moment and closed my eyes... I tried to feel the antiquity of this place. I only succeeded in a small way.

After wandering about the top of Monk's Mound, I realized there was more to see. I could see the city of St. Louis in the distance, including the Gateway Arch and also the building that I used to live in... Gentry's Landing! That was an interesting revelation. I could also see the partially reconstructed stockade wall that once surrounded the temple mound upon which I stood. My photos show my progress down to the simulated stockades.

I will end my comments here. For me this was a very emotional and almost religious experience. I do not feel I have expressed myself adequately in this commentary. However, I hope you enjoy the pictures I have taken and presented in my personal presentation of...

"City of the Sun"




Click on the Temple of the Sun to view my photos...

Click on this button
which I created of

to view my photos...



This frog was not among my photos


From my photos - a partial  sculpture


From my photos - an ancient mort & pestal type grinder



Cahokia Mounds Home Page

Comments about the Mississippians
and the ani-Kutani

University of Milwaukee

Comparisons of the ani-Kutani
and the ani-Keetoowah


I wish to dedicate this page to three people.

The first two people to who I want to give thanks, are my mother and father. They were both over half Cherokee and from them I received my heritage; to them I give thanks.
Daisy Colleen Dabbs. Daughter of Mabel Helen Florence Dabbs and Clifford Tyrus McDowell

Daisy Colleen
(Dabbs) Lewis

(1937 - 1984)

My mother grew up in rural Alabama where being "Indian" was something you did not admit to outside the family. My mother was allegedly of the ani Kutani, a very secretive and scarce people who have not officially existed (according to history) for five centuries. Mix with her Cherokee heritage, she was also of Celtic ancestry. Her father was Clifford T. McDowell, of Clan McDowell.


Frank Lewis. Son of Eula Vay Wingate and William Arthur Lewis

Frank Everett Lewis
(1926 - 1988)

My father was born and raised in rural Oklahoma. He was raised by his Grandfather, who was allegedly a full-blood. His first language was Tsalagi, but once his started school, even though he went to school on the reservation, he learned English and lost the ancestral tongue of his childhood. He was very passionate about his heritage, and while other family members were trying to be "white" and deny their heritage (which has obscured many a genealogical trail!), he stood fast and I respect him for that. It was he, possibly more than anyone, who instilled in me a pride of my ancestry.

My father told me that he was of the ani Sahoni, or "Blue Clan," but I have no way to prove this. I accept my father's word.


Ruby Dancingmoon, of Hants, England

....and last,
but not least, my friend

of Hants, England

RubyDancingmoon is also of Cherokee descent, but she is living in England where the stereotypes and misconceptions of what an "indigenous American," is even worse than it is here in our homeland. One can only imagine her feeling of isolation.

RubyDancingmoon could not be with me in person on my visit to the Cahokia Mounds, but she was definitely with me in spirit and I thought of her and what her perspective might be throughout the day. I even signed her name in the guest book! RubyDancingmoon also provided me with her perspective in designing this page and provide the wonderful background music!

She is also an accomplished dancer and professional dance instructor. Her dance site is no longer available, but do visit her Native American site (which has involved years of research and countless hours of work) ... by clicking on the link below...

Treat yourself to Ruby Dancingmoon's Native American Facts