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The Cahokia were an American Indian tribe indigenous to the Midwest. The tribe is extinct. Their descendants may have accompanied the Confederated Peoria to Oklahoma in 1867. The Cahokia were members of the Illinois, a group of approximately twelve Algonquian-speaking tribes who occupied areas of present Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas. Although little is known about their culture, the Cahokia were not related to the prehistoric inhabitants of the Cahokia Mounds, which are located near Collinsville, Illinois. That ancient site was named for the Cahokia who dwelled nearby during the late seventeenth century.

The Cahokia resided in present Illinois near the confluence of the Illinois and Mississippi rivers when Father Jacques Marquette visited the region in 1673. About 1700 they moved south along the east bank of the Mississippi to a site near present Cahokia, Illinois, where a Catholic mission had been established in 1699. There they joined the Tamaroa, a people with whom they had been closely allied. The two tribes combined for a total of about ninety lodges.

The Tamaroa separated from the Cahokia in 1701. The Cahokia continued living near the mission until 1734, when they relocated south. French influences, especially liquor, had negatively impacted their population. It also brought attacks by pro-British tribes, who destroyed their village in 1752. The Cahokia subsequently resettled near the Michigamea, who had likewise been attacked.

The Cahokia and the Michigamea were soon assimilated by the Kaskaskia and were recognized as such by the United States in 1803. As Kaskaskia they banded with the Peoria and removed from Illinois to present Kansas during the 1830s. There, as members of the Confederated Peoria tribe, they were assigned land in northeast Indian Territory (present Ottawa County, Oklahoma) in 1867. That reservation was allotted to 153 Peoria beginning in 1889. The number of allottees who were of Cahokia descent is unknown.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Grant Foreman, The Last Trek of the Indians (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946). Frederick W. Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Vol. 1 (1907; reprint, New York: Pageant Books, 1960). Muriel H. Wright, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1951).

Jon D. May

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