WHO ARE WE AND WHAT
ARE WE ABOUT?
Preserving the Past for the Future
The Powell Archaeological Research Center (PARC) is an organization
dedicated to saving archaeological data for future study. It has
been formed by individuals concerned about the destruction of
archaeological sites by ongoing development in the metropolitan
St. Louis area.
Powell Archaeological Research Center (PARC) is located on the
western edge of the Cahokia
Mounds Archaeological Site at the Fingerhut House. The house
has been purchased to serve as a research center and was, at one
time, the home of the Fingerhut family who owned the area of the
western portion of the Cahokia Site. Located on Collinsville Road,
the Fingerhut House lies across from the site of Powell Mound,
the third largest mound of the Cahokia Site. Powell Mound was
destroyed during the 1930s when the surrounding area began to
Our beginnings. PARC was established
in October 1997 by a small group of individuals interested in
the purchase of the Marie Fingerhut house located on the western
periphery of the Cahokia Site.
Challenges. The large Mississippian
site of Cahokia covers about six square miles with nearly 100
mounds located within its boundaries. Approximately half of this
area and a majority of the remaining mounds comprise the Cahokia
Mounds Historic Site that is owned and maintained by the State
of Illinois. However,
this leaves much of the site in private ownership and thus subject
to development. Furthermore, at least five
other major Mississippian mound centers and hundreds of other
sites and mounds that surround Cahokia are endangered from development.
These sites, no matter how large or small, all contribute to our
understanding of the Native American occupation of the St. Louis
Unfortunately, an intense amount of development
is underway. This economic growth of course, is nothing new. What
is new is the accelerated rate of expansion, much of it urban
sprawl. Our concern is how to deal with the problem of protecting
these sites for future generations to enjoy.
Opportunities. A number of approaches
furthering protection exist. For example, several federal and
state laws are in place to assist in this endeavor, however, many
sites are still left unprotected by these laws or the laws are
simply ignored. While many developers have cooperated with archaeologists
over the years to help salvage information or preserve
sites, others have not been as eager. We at PARC believe a greater
understanding of the importance of our past can be conveyed through
education. This will hopefully lead to increased cooperation and
ultimately help save the areas archaeological resources. While
Cahokia Mounds serves as an important focal point for much public
education, one of PARC's goals is to provide educational programs
complementing those already provided.
Another way to preserve the region's past
is to purchase property when it becomes available. This was the
motivation behind the recent purchase of the Fingerhut house and
the surrounding 2.5 acres. Therefore, we have made the purchase
of archaeological properties an additional objective of PARC We
are working with the Archaeological
Conservancy to help achieve this goal.
However, obtaining property necessitates raising
money. Presently, funds raised through the sale
of books at archaeological conferences and other meetings
help pay the Fingerhut mortgages. For the past ten years these
sales have been conducted through our sister organization, the
Central Mississippi Valley Archaeological Research Institute (CMVARI),
as part of the American Bottom Rescue Archaeology Fund (ABRAF).
Moneys raised from these sales provided the financial base for
the purchase of the Fingerhut property.
Excavation is another way to preserve and
gain archaeological information. However,
this is a last resort and can be a time consuming and costly affair.
Every member of our board has been involved in volunteering their
time for salvage archaeology during their professional careers.
While very gratifying, we are getting older and less mobile, and
we need a younger generation to continue this tradition.
It is hoped that what we do with PARC becomes
a tradition and that it will transcend our own personal and professional
lives. PARC is not meant to replace organizations that have a
long history of involvement in the region. Instead we hope to
serve as a clearinghouse or focal point for the numerous opportunities
that exist for St. Louis regional archaeology.