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Illinois senators want Cahokia Mounds added as a 'unit' of National Park Service

The classification change would afford the site more protection and funding from the National Park Service

COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — Illinois senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth sent a letter Tuesday to President Joe Biden urging him to make Cahokia Mounds a unit of the National Park Service.

“We write to encourage you to use your authority under the Antiquities Act to designate the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site as a unit of the National Park System. We support elevating, protecting, and sharing this important archeological and cultural resource that represents the people and landscapes that once made up one of America’s first cities in the Western Hemisphere,” the senators wrote in the letter.

Durbin introduced a piece of legislation aimed at elevating the site to the NPS list of sites earlier in the year. It is currently designated as a National Historic Landmark, an Illinois State Historic Site, and a World Heritage Site by the United Nations.

The current designation protects the site from some developments in the area. A press release from the senators said the site was surveyed by the National Park Service in 2016 and was found to demonstrate "national significance, suitability, feasibility, and has a need for National Park Service management," all four of the criteria for adding the site to the NPS list.

The classification change would afford the site more protection and funding from the NPS.

According to the Cahokia Mounds website, the site contains "the remains of the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico." 

"Within the 2,200-acre tract, located a few miles west of Collinsville, Illinois, lie the archaeological remnants of the central section of the ancient settlement that is today known as Cahokia," the website says.

According to the NPS, there are 423 individual units covering more than 85 million acres in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and US territories.