After Cahokia: Indigenous Repopulation and Depopulation of the Horseshoe Lake Watershed AD 1400-1900

A. J. White, Samuel E. Munoz, Sissel Schroeder, Lora R. Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The occupation history of the Cahokia archaeological complex (ca. AD 1050-1400) has received significant academic attention for decades, but the subsequent repopulation of the region by indigenous peoples 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-Mississippian population change in the Cahokia region. Fecal stanol data indicate that the Cahokia region reached a population minimum by approximately AD 1400, regional population had rebounded by AD 1500, a population maximum was reached by AD 1650, and population declined again by AD 1700. The indigenous repopulation of the area coincides with environmental changes conducive to maize-based agriculture and bison-hunting subsistence practices of the Illinois Confederation. The subsequent regional depopulation corresponds to a complicated period of warfare, epidemic disease, Christianization, population movement, and environmental change in the eighteenth century. The recognition of a post-Mississippian indigenous population helps shape a narrative of Native American persistence over Native American disappearance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-278
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Antiquity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments. This work was supported by funding

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the Society for American Archaeology.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Cahokia
  • fecal stanols
  • Illinois Confederation
  • paleoclimate
  • paleodemography
  • protohistory
  • resilience

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • CAHO


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