Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award

January 2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Chair and Committee

Tristram Kidder


This dissertation presents a model for the development of Cahokian society through the lens of monumental construction. Previous models of Cahokian society have emphasized the accumulation of individual power and domination of the many by a few. Using analogies from the ethnography and ethnohistory of Dhegian Siouan speakers, I argue the Cahokian system likely contained both achieved and ascribed statuses mediated through a worldview that emphasized balance and integration of the whole. In the face of a growing population, this kind of structural organization may have precluded the development of class conflict and, at the same time, permitted the development of large-scale societies. The analysis of monumental construction focuses primarily on the construction of Monks Mound. Through a combination of stratigraphic and chronometric data, the construction of Monks Mound is argued to be a definable and discrete event in the history of Cahokia. In this view, Monks Mound is a ritual vehicle created to integrate a large population.


Permanent URL: