When you ask most Americans about the settling of this country many mention Christopher Columbus or Plymouth and the pilgrims. Then you ask them how and when the people that were here before them, the people we call Indians got here. Most will shrug their shoulders or look at you blankly. Native people arrived in North America between 12000 and 16000 years ago. Based on dates and location, archaeologists assign sites to cultures. The cultures are grouped into broader categories (stages). One culture grew, flourished and declined from around 800ce to 1250ce (one of the Formative stage cultures) along and near what we today call the Mississippi River. We call this culture Mississippian. Mississippians were primarily farmers, growing corn and squash along with other crops. They also harvested animals and fish from the rich bottom lands along the Mississippi. They lived in villages with huts made of plant materials. Villages began to grow and consolidate. South of the joining of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, near present day St. Louis villages grew to become a city, Cahokia. Estimates are that in the year 1150 Cahokia housed about 20,000 people. This is larger than the city of London at the same time. Investigators determined Cahokia had a unifying religion, central administration and a class system. Truly a city., not a group of villages.