Cahokia, the urban center of the Mississippian culture, was located near present-day Collinsville, Illinois. At its peak, Cahokia reached a population of about 30,000, not matched by any European-founded city in North America until 1800. Various burial mounds and other structures still dot the landscape. One, known as Monk’s Mound, is about the same height as the Great Pyramid of Giza when measured from its base. Through a combination of migration and cultural change, the Illiniwek Confederation (meaning “best people,” from which the word Illinois derives), made up of about twelve separate tribes, rose to prominence. These peoples spoke an Algonquian language and had a unifying authority figure. Two of the tribes from the Illiniwek Confederation as well as two tribes from the Miami Nation now form a confederation as the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma.
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