‘The Lost Cannibals of Cahokia’: Sacrifce destroys all cultures in a never-ending cycle

For twenty years I have been puzzling out the reason for two things, why the first and largest city in America fell into abandonment by 1300 AD, and why to this very day thousands upon thousands of people drive by the ruins outside of St. Louis every day on a highway that passes by the third largest pyramid in the world by volume without paying any attention.  I have the answer, and I write about that answer here at Overmanwarrior’s Wisdom.  But my arrival to that answer took a long time so naturally the information here is extensive.  It will take a while to read and watch all the material on this article, but its worth it to understand the complexity, and context of the claims.  The result of my investigation was chronicled in a screenplay I wrote, which won a few awards but was not desired by Wilshire Blvd agents for the radical violence, heart pounding action sequences, and dire political revelations it contained.  That screenplay was called The Lost Cannibals of Cahokia and was about two college anthropology students who are given a scholarship task of writing a thesis on the demise of the lost city of Cahokia—America’s first city, and was at one time larger than London which is to this day hidden in plain sight just a few miles east of downtown St. Louis.

The hero of my story was Cameron Loveless, a mixed martial arts fighter who was paying her way through college by cage fighting.  Her rival was named Tina Lane, a young “progressive” beauty who decided to sleep her way to the top of the anthropology field instead of doing the hard work of digging.  The story was based on my experiences at the time in college, my work with the Joseph Campbell Foundation—particularly my experiences in Washington D.C., and the many adventures I had been on in a particular region of the world with a good friend who sometimes shows up here as The Oracle.  The point of the story was to explain my theory for why the ancient city evaporated from the earth as a region of immense political power to just a collection of abandoned earth mounds that developers wanted to build East St. Louis upon.  The plot of the story would take Cameron Loveless and her friends to the deepest hells of earth, through dank caves flooded with cold rising water, dangerous insects, and many other perilous natural disasters as she puzzled out why the city of Cahokia had failed. But there was no danger that she or her friends encountered which would prepare her for the ultimate horror, the Lost Cannibals of Cahokia which were deformed descendents of the ancient city who needed to consume human flesh to abate their illness.  At this point in the story, I took some creative liberty with the facts so to create a metaphorical analysis of the real evil which destroys our world then and today.

The story is a favorite of many who have read it, and it did bounce around Hollywood for a few years.  The general opinion from the Hollywood community was the story needed to figure out what it was.  Was the story a high adventure action story?  Was it a horror story?  Or was it a political drama?  Ironically the number one problem that agents had with The Lost Cannibals of Cahokia was that Cameron Loveless was “too strong” of a character, and that she got along “too” well with her fiancé Shane.  Several agents told me that I needed to re-write the story with an emphasis on one of those themes, and that Cameron needed to have more “conflict” with her relationship to Shane.

I couldn’t endure to do such a thing as make the story weaker to make it relatable to a general audience, so I shelved the story for some later time.  My oldest daughter and my son-in-law love the story so much that they want me to turn the screenplay into a novelized version. After all it was my experiences with that screenplay that turned me to writing novels instead of movies as a passion. With a novel, there are no Brand Blvd parties to attend, and if people don’t like the book, they don’t buy it.  Writing a novel is one of the most solitary things a person can do, which is why it is so appealing to me. Screenplays are much more collaborative, which I quickly lost interest in.  But as to turning Cannibals of Cahokia into a novel, I had already passed my point of interest on that particular story.  I wrote it in essence during my late 20’s and I have moved on.  At the time it was freshly learned by me what ended the city of Cahokia that many scholars still debate.  But where I succeeded and they failed, and still fail, are they ignore one key ingredient of what all societies that fizzle out have in common–a sense of “collective sacrifice.”  A city like Cahokia during its growth phase embodied many of the attributes that would be considered “philosophic capitalism” at the time—an idea of growth, of individual profit, and a yearning to become better.  The cycle usually takes 200 to 300 years, but eventually once the growth is done and the adventurers who establish such cities die off or move away, a parasitic political class is emerges in the wake, and these entities use religion to control the masses not with profitability, but a sense of sacrifice.

In Cahokia’s case, human sacrifice was as common as it was among the Aztec, Mayans, or any Mesopotamian culture.  Once sacrifice becomes part of any community, the destiny of the society is in the hands of “the gods” and not the individuals who build pyramids, city walls, or perform warfare against their neighbors to gain new territory.  While some of those activities might be destructive, they do involve thought—which is the lifeblood of any culture.  But when a culture stops thinking, and starts sacrificing to the “Gods” they turn off their minds and return to the state of a typical primitive.  Ayn Rand in her great little book Anthem described this process effectively, and it is the missing element in explaining why societies fail.

Modern scientists and political engineers wish to believe societies like Cahokia didn’t even exist, because it does not fit their version of what the American Indian was.   When the lawyer and amateur historian Henry Brackenridge found the massive site of Cahokia in 1811 he tried to get his friend Thomas Jefferson to get the word out about the wonder he had discovered in the middle of the North American continent, a city that rivaled the Egyptian pyramids.  But newspapers paid little attention to Jefferson’s wild ideas.  After all, America was in the middle of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and could not afford to think about the North American Indian being sophisticated and capable of building cities larger than any in Europe.  Indians were to be considered savages.  The result is to this very day, the evidence is right in front of millions, but nobody wishes to see it—because the evidence does not fit the anticipated reality.

In my story Cameron wanted to prove that Cahokia didn’t fail by lack of rain, or crop failure like many modern anthropologists suggest.  Cahokia ended because its political structure collapsed on itself in the same way that modern-day Detroit is failing.  The result of social sacrifice 100% of the time leads mankind back to the state of the primitive, not the sophisticate.  Her rival Tina simply slept with her college professor, adopted the theory of those giving out the foundation grant she wanted, and played along like so many modern-day scientists who wish to have funding for their projects, surrendering their thinking to the politics of their institutions no matter what the facts indicate.  Cameron wanted to prove otherwise, and did so with overwhelming evidence.  To get a taste of my screenplay what follows are three scenes from it taken from ACT I, ACT II and ACT III.  Scene changes are indicated below with terms such as “DISSOLVE TO:”  and when characters are speaking, they are centered on the page and shown in all capital letters.  It takes some getting used to, but is worth the effort.  To make it even easier, I put all the character names in red so that the reader knows they can ignore that text as it is intended to be read by the actors only.  All the action and crazy cannibal stuff is left out, featuring instead only the parts of the Cahokia story that are known to be true as they are relevant to the case at hand.

——————————————————————————-

The Lost Cannibals of Cahokia

By

Rich Hoffman

Draft 2

Current Revisions by

Rich Hoffman 4/15/2006

WGA #116135

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            CUT TO:

EXT. UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI – DAY

College students rush across the lawn to get to their classes under a splendid afternoon sun.

INT. ANTHROPOLOGY CLASSROOM – DAY

PROFESSOR TIPPIT is a tall, 55 year-old bald man dressed in a blazer that covers a t-shirt. He wears jeans and some dirty hiking boots. He’s poised confidently in front of a class of about thirty students pointing to drawings on the chalk board.

TIPPIT

Many of the 120 mounds at the

Cahokia site have been wiped out

by farming or modern construction.

On the sheet you have in front of

you, which I have drawn on the

chalk board, is a replica of the

site as we now know it.

We see all the students fumbling though their papers, looking for their diagram. Next to the window along the east wall we see Cameron sitting calmly in her chair studying her copy of the diagram, rubbing the fresh bruises on her face. She is clean and looks very well-groomed. Her hair is in a pony tail just like Jose who is sitting next to her looking pretty much the same as she did the last time we saw her.

TIPPIT (V.O.)

Only 92 mounds appear on this

diagram. The original shape of 47

of them are no longer

recognizable.

Tippit points to a group of object drawn on the chalk board.

TIPPIT

The remaining 45 fall into four

classes. Single platforms, double

platform, mounds marking the north-south,

east-west axis, and conical

mounds.

Josie nudges Cameron’s arm.

JOSIE

(whispering to

Cameron)

The “blond wonder” is checking you

out.

Cameron looks to her right on the far side of the room and notices TINA LANE gazing right at her. Tina is a woman about their age with dyed white/blond hair. She’s wearing black eye shadow and wears several earrings on her right ear. Her nose and lip are pierced. Her cloths sport the “grunge” look to a tee. Tina blows her a kiss.

TIPPIT (V.O.)

Now we need to address the issue

of Woodhenge.

Cameron and Josie give each other an anticipated look. Tippit points to a spot on the diagram to the west of the large square in the middle. Over the large square is labeled “Monks Mound.” the spot he points to is a circle. Above the circle he writes with ABRASIVE FRICTION, “Woodhenge.”

TIPPIT

Those of you that went on last

summer’s dig at Cahokia, know that

during the spring equinox you can

stand at this spot–

(pointing to a spot

in the middle of the

circle)

And witness the sun appear to rise

out of Monks Mound. This

astronomical observation device

was rebuilt several times over the

centuries and ended up over 400

feet wide, resembling an

elliptical shape. The Cahokians

used red ceder posts 15 to 20

inches in diameter and they stood

20 feet tall.

We can see that everyone in the class seems to be bored except for Cameron, Josie and Tina. One guy in front is asleep.

TIPPIT (V.O.)

I think it’s safe to say that the

current belief is that the

Cahokian leaders used this site to

prove they had mastery over the

sun to their people. They could

point to the horizon on a given

day and show which key post the

sun would rise on, and which one it would set.

The sleeping guy comes alive and rubs the drool from his mouth.

SLEEPING GUY

(sarcastic)

Wow.

A gentle RUMBLE OF LAUGHTER moves throughout the classroom.

TIPPIT

It’s really quite amazing. We

have a culture here in the

Mississippi valley dating 700 a.d.

To 1400 a.d. That is very similar

to early Mesopotamian culture of

3000 years earlier.

SLEEPING GUY

So what? I really don’t

understand why that’s important?

Every primitive culture seems to

recognize astronomical

observations.

TIPPIT

(laughs)

If you hadn’t been sleeping, you

may see the significance.

The class LAUGHS, this time louder. Tippit scores a point.

TIPPIT

(continuing)

Can anyone explain to our sleeping

friend here the significance of

this observation…keep in mind,

Mound 72.

(he turns and draws

more images on the

chalk board)

Those of you that didn’t go to

last summer’s extravaganza to the

sight wouldn’t know this, because

we haven’t covered it yet, but

when Mound 72 was excavated they

found an apparently important man

in his 40’s buried on a bed of

about 20,000 shell ornaments, and

about 800 unused arrows. With him

were buried four men, we think

they represent the four cardinal

directions of the compass. These

men were buried with their heads

and hands cut off indicating human

sacrifice.

The classroom gives a disgusted reaction to this news. The sudden shift in talk from numbers to human sacrifice has woken everyone up. Tippit senses this and runs with it. Cameron and Josie get a laugh out of the sudden shift in attention, a satire on the human condition.

TIPPIT

(continuing)

Also buried with this apparent

king was 53 women between the ages

of 15 to 25 years old. So imagine

this. You are living in Cahokia,

and your leader dies. You are

virgins—

The whole class BREAKS OUT LAUGHING at the impossibility that any girl in the classroom in that age group could possibly be a virgin. Cameron and Josie again laugh to themselves, it’s a private joke between them. Another satire on the human condition.

TIPPIT

(continuing; laughing)

You are virgins and you have been

summoned. You must escort your

king into the next life. So what

do you do?

A guy that looks like a mop sitting in the back of the room raises his hand.

MOP HEAD

Why would anybody willingly follow

some old dude into death? I still

don’t understand this whole mass

sacrifice stuff.

TIPPIT

As we’ve studied, it’s common in

all planting cultures. Human

sacrifice, whether cannibalism

mass graves or both, is a dominant

ritualistic practice.

MOP HEAD

We are European descendants, and

we didn’t do that kind of thing.

We planted sit and stuff just like

these people.

TIPPIT

Sure we do. Only our culture does

it symbolically. In the Roman

Catholic sacrificial mass, you

break bread symbolizing the body

of Christ, and drink wine, symbolizing the blood of Christ.

SLEEPING GUY

That’s not the same, man.

TIPPIT

Sure it is. The Roman Catholic

Church realized what these mass

grave cultures overlooked, that

religion requires subjects, and

the Catholics figured out that if

everyone died, nobody would be

left to go to their church and

give them money.

The class ERUPTS IN LAUGHTER.

TIPPIT

(continuing)

Back to the mass graves. In

Mesopotamia we have the Royal

Tombs of Ur, during 2500 to 2350

B.C. Here we have hundreds of

people going to death for their

kind and queen. They even buried

chariots, and horses, and courts

of musicians. So here in Cahokia

we have mass burials just the

same, right here in our own back

yard, just under a thousand years

ago. So again, imagine you’re a

young woman, the same age as most

of you now, and you look upon life

for the last time. You are

prepared with ornaments and then

strangled, most likely, ’till you

die. You do this so you can

accompany this great king, who

lived like a God atop Monks Mound.

Would anybody like to explain why

this is significant, and what can

we learn from this?

Cameron and Tina’s hands shoot up. Tippit isn’t surprised. He looks a little disappointed that the rest of the class is sitting on their hands.

TIPPIT

(continuing)

Funny, the only two students in

this class, the same two students

competing for the verbal

presentation on Cahokia’s demise.

By the way–

(looking from Tina to

Cameron)

After class I have information that will be useful to the two of

you in your research. So see me

after class.

(he looks at Tina)

All right, give us the

significance in the Woodhenge

construction for sleepy here.

(putting his hand on

the sleepy guy’s

shoulder)

TINA

Well, first, by showing that the

Cahokian leadership could predict

the movement of the sun, they

could prove to the citizens that

they were significant, and had a

special relationship with the

Gods.

TIPPIT

(looking at the rest

of the class, then

to Cameron)

Good. But why is that important?

CAMERON

It’s important to study the

primordial effects of dependency

upon the human psyche. By showing

their dominance, they justified

their existence and their desire

to abuse power at the hand of

their infantile ego systems. They

do this by using the public to

serve their needs, much like

modern-day politicians. They

created a sense of urgency and

then volunteered themselves to

fill that need.

Tina is looking angry as competitive aggression oozes from her eyes.

TINA

I’d like to add that by placing

the spring equinox at rising out

of the kings home, atop Monks

Mound, the people by default

identified the king as a heavenly

figure. This is why they

willingly subjected themselves to

the mass suicides.

Cameron and Josie look at each other shaking their heads at Tina’s need to outdo her.

SLEEPING GUY

This is all very interesting,

but we have cultures like this

already in Mexico. The Maya and

the Aztecs practiced the same type

of rituals.

CAMERON

(cutting in)

This is true, but Cahokia is

isolated from them. It seems to

have developed totally on its own.

The strongest argument made for

the rise of the Maya and later the

Aztecs is that they moved across

the Pacific from Mesopotamia, and

after a couple thousand years of

parallel settlement, established

themselves in Mexico. Most of

what we know of the Native

American Indian tribes of North

America would indicate diffusion

across the Bearing Straight,

coming from China, Siberia,

Alaska, Canada, then spreading out

into tribes into the rest of North

America. The Maya were on their

way out by 700 a.d. 200 years

before the slightest hint of

activity at Cahokia. The Aztecs

didn’t rise to power until early

1300 a.d. Cahokia is a mystery

totally self-contained, not

following the logic of its

neighbors.

The class stares open-mouthed at Cameron. Josie is laughing to herself as she stares out the window. It doesn’t matter if she’s in a boxing ring, or in a classroom debate, we see that Cameron Loveless will fight with everything she’s got. Tippit looks proud. But his proud look quickly dissolves as he turns around and writes “Spinden’s Correlation” on the chalk board. He turns around and smiles at Cameron. Cameron understands immediately and covers her face from mild embarrassment.

TIPPIT

You are forgetting Ms. Loveless,

that the Mayan dates when

translated to our own calender

gave us false dates. The common

practice is to use the Thomas-

Goodman correlation. When doing

so, add about 260 years. That being the case,

we can look at the fall of the Maya to be around 900

to 950 a.d.

The bell RINGS and the class jumps out of their seats wasting no time. Tina is smiling as she makes her way to the professor’s desk. Josie is already there, but Cameron is still sitting. After the last of the students leaves the room, Shane walks in looking secure. He is dressed in black swat team type pants and a t-shirt covered with cartoon characters. He makes eye contact with Cameron and that brings a smile from her. It’s a soft smile that we haven’t seen yet. She does the same for him. She gets up and meets Tippit at his desk where he is sitting down.

TIPPIT

(continuing)

Sorry Cameron, I was just keeping

you on your toes.

CAMERON

That’s ok. I ran right into that

one.

TINA

(staring at the

bruises on Cameron’s

face)

Looks like that’s not all you ran

into.

JOSIE

Why don’t you back off for a

change!

TIPPIT

Ladies! Ladies, let’s not fight

again. Chill out.

Shane steps up behind Cameron and puts his arms around her stomach giving her a gentle hug. Josie and Tina eye each other than give their attention to Tippit.

TIPPIT

(continuing)

Cameron. Tina. I have some bad

news, and some good news. I

waited ’till after class to tell

you because it really only affects

the two of you.

TINA

What is it?

TIPPIT

Well, remember Paul P. Jacobs from

last summer’s dig at Cahokia?

TINA/CAMERON

(together)

Yeah.

TIPPIT

Well, this may be tough. You two

are the only ones from this

University to take part in his

scholarship opportunity for post

graduate tuition.

CAMERON

Yeah, two years of paid tuition

for my masters. I’m depending on

it.

TINA

(to Cameron)

So am I. If I don’t get that

money I’m sunk.

TIPPIT

Well, this will make things harder

for you two girls than they

already are. I know you both need

that money, and only one can get

it. I wish I could change it, but

I can’t.

JOSIE

What about Jacobs?

TIPPIT

Well, you girls knew he’s been

missing since the fall.

CAMERON

I didn’t know that.

TINA

(to Cameron)

I did.

Cameron gives Tina a look of pathetic disgust.

TIPPIT

Yes, he’s been missing for about

six months. Well, he turned up

last week. At least part of him.

TINA

Part of him?

TIPPIT

A fisherman found his head in

a lake in Tennessee.

There is an uncomfortable silence among them.

TIPPIT

(continuing)

He was down there doing some

research for Cahokia.

JOSIE

(trying to lighten up

things)

Did his head still have skin on it?

Cameron pushes Josie in a playful attempt to silence her.

TINA

Why would he be doing work for

Cahokia down there?

TIPPIT

Before I answer that I have to

give you the rest of the news.

the Paul P. Jacobs foundation has

decided to have a funeral to give

closure to his family.

JOSIE

I hope it won’t be an open casket?

Shane can’t help but laugh, and Cameron fights back a smile.

Tina is horrified.

TIPPIT

I should think not. But I’m

afraid that something has happened

that will affect the scholarship

award.

Cameron and Tina’s faces drop to an expression of gloom.

TIPPIT

(continuing)

This weekend is the spring equinox

and the Foundation is gathering

there to pay tribute to his life’s

work at Cahokia. They’ve already

cremated his remain and they plan

to spread them over Monks Mound.

JOSIE

That’ll be a real small vase.

CAMERON

How’s this affect the scholarship?

TIPPIT

Next Friday, one week from today,

the Foundation is going to award

the scholarship to one of you.

TINA

But we haven’t turned in our

essays yet.

TIPPIT

They don’t want just an essay.

They are going to release some

unpublished work of Dr. Jacobs and

they are holding a special

ceremony to award the scholarship.

CAMERON

So what do we have to do?

TIPPIT

They are asking that you give a

verbal explanation on the demise

of Cahokia based on the incomplete

evidence of Dr. Jacobs’ latest

findings.

They will judge your presentation

and the winner will get all of

your post-graduate studies paid in

full for two years and your

presentation will be published in

the book their planning to release

in tribute to Paul.

CAMERON

(looking at her

friends, then at

Tina)

That’s not enough time.

(then leaning against

the desk, her fists

clinched)

I can’t afford to blow this.

TIPPIT

Don’t panic. You both know

Cahokia very well. Probably

better than the Foundation people.

Just do your best.

(beat)

I do have some information that

Dr. Jacobs E-mail me right before

he disappeared. I could forward

it to the two of you if you wish.

You may find it useful.

CAMERON

Why? What’s in it?

TIPPIT

Well, Paul was studying possible

trade routes from North Carolina.

You know, mica origins. He

stopped by a little store in some

tiny little town on the border of

Kentucky and Tennessee, close to

where he was found. Anyway, he

bought some jewelry.

JOSIE

Jewelry? So what?

TIPPIT

Sea shells…sea shell jewelry

mixed with mica figures dangling

from the shells. Very elaborate.

TINA

For once I agree with Josie. So

what?

TIPPIT

They are very similar to the kind

of ornamentation found in Mound

72. He believed they were

connected in some way.

TINA

In the middle of Tennessee!

TIPPIT

Like I said. He was looking for

trade routes, and he thought he

found one. These ornament were

far too elaborate, and primitive

to be made by the locals. At

least that’s what he thought. He

never was able to get a carbon-14

on them. Maybe if one of you

could get an age on those

ornaments, and put them at around

the time of Cahokia’s height of

power and influence, it could help

prove something, or make a

connection to your theories.

TINA

My theory can’t be proven like

that.

TIPPIT

Well the information is there if

you want it. I’ll E-mail it to you both. Also, I’ll be going to

St. Louis this weekend to meet the

foundation members. They want to

spread the ashes tomorrow, so

you’re both welcome to come along

and meet them. It might give you

some idea as to what they’re

looking for.

(beat)

I know this is short notice, but

you’ll both have to make the best

of it. I know you were going to

have all summer to put together a

theory, but this is the way things

work. Make it work to your

advantage.

TINA

(looking pale)

If you don’t mind, I’d like to go

with you Professor. I’m not about

to waste valuable time hunting

down sea shells.

Cameron looks up at Shane who stares back nervously.

JOSIE

(agitated)

Surely there’s some way to delay

this.

TIPPIT

I’m caught between a rock and a

hard place here. Both of you need

the money. Both of you expect to

win. All I can do is tell you the

rules. I’m not the one holding

the money. All I can say is there

are two possible options here.

You two can meet the people who

will judge you. You can get to

know hem, learn what they like. or

you can see if Paul was onto

anything new in this Tennessee

place.

(picking up his books)

But I have to go right now. I’m

late for an appointment. I’ll Email

the Dr. Jacobs message to

both of you as soon as I get home.

I’ll be leaving for St. Louis

around 3 P.M. If either of you

want to go, meet me here around

2:30 with whatever you’re taking

along.

Professor Tippit leaves in a rush. The atmosphere is tense.

CAMERON

Damn.

TINA

Please tell my you’re not planning

on going with me.

CAMERON

I’ll go where you don’t.

(getting closer to

Tina’s face)

I’d rather work than kiss ass.

TINA

Good. Then I won’t have to

compete for attention.

JOSIE

No, you can just take off your

clothes and dance for them, like

you do everyone else.

TINA

(to Josie then to

Cameron)

You guys are just in denial.

You’re mad because he money has

come easy for me, and you have to

struggle.

(beat)

Look at you. You actually think

your way is better.

CAMERON

I sleep better.

TINA

You haven’t been over to see me

sleep lately, now have you.

SHANE

No, but everyone else has.

Tina gives Shane a piercing gaze but quickly retreats when

she realizes it doesn’t affect him.

TINA

(storming out of the

room)

Good luck. You’ll need it.

(from out in the hall)

I’ll be sure to guarantee my luck.

SHANE

(looking at Cameron)

I just had to throw that in.

JOSIE

Man, is she a slut. You know what

she’s going to do don’t you?

CAMERON

(chews on her cut lip)

I’m not going to mingle with a

bunch of fruitcakes. That’s her

way. She bullshits. I dig.

that’s what anthropologists are

supposed to do.

Shane rubs the side of Cameron’s face. She yields to it. The tough talker suddenly melts like butter. She falls into his strong arms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     DISSOLVE TO:

INT. JEEP – NIGHT

It is dark outside the confines of the jeep. The only light is a soft glow given off by the laptop. Cameron’s face is excited, lit with a blue hue from the screen.

SHANE

So what’s our objective? I know

you have to prove how Cahokia fell

from power but how are we going to

do that?

CAMERON

Well, the theory I’ve been working

on deals with competition from

other settlements along with

Mississippi as being the primary

cause of Cahokia’s fall between

1200 a.d. And 1300 a.d.

(shaking her head)

Tina believes that a small global

cooling trend around 1250 caused

the fall by damaging the growing

season.

SHANE

Is there any validity to her

theory?

JOSIE

Sure there is. But Cameron’s idea

is far more practical.

SHANE

(to Josie)

Are you just saying that because

she’s your friend?

JOSIE

No, see even if the crops failed

around that time, we had buffalo

migrating across the Mississippi

in this same century. So that

should have made up for the poor

farming results.

CAMERON

Tina only clings to that theory

because Tippit suggested it last

summer. Mr. Jacobs on the other

handmade much more sense.

JOSIE

She’s got a crush on Tippit.

CAMERON

She’s got a crush on anything that

moves. That’s why she’s so

disgusting. She’s like water.

She’ll take on the shape of

whatever you put her in. That’s

how she gets her way.

SHANE

Is there anything in those notes

about where we’re headed?

CAMERON

Well, Dr. Jacobs says that he went

to a little gas station just south

of the Tennessee border and found

elaborated Cahokian style

ornaments on sale at a tourist

trap bait shop.

SHANE

Tennessee has a long border.

South of what. Give me a

reference point.

CAMERON

Looks like Monticello, Kentucky.

That’s the only major town he

mentions.

JOSIE

Are we going to stop and eat

someplace? I’m starving. I

haven’t eaten since this morning.

CAMERON

Monticello is probably the last

reliable place to eat, so we’ll

stop there. Everything south of

that at that time of night will

probably be closed. It’s the

Bible belt.

Josie opens a map.

JOSIE

You’re right. There’s like

nothing south of Monticello.

Definitely hick land.

SHANE

So what’s the back-up plan if this

turns out to be a dud.

CAMERON

We don’t have one. All I can say

is that this better work. I was

planning on working on this all

summer. Now we’re supposed to

come up with something out of the

blue. I need that money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     DISSOLVE TO:

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY

Six days later, it’s the same hotel the Foundation had been staying at for the funeral ceremony. They are all seated at a long banquet table situated in front of a single podium. They sit there like judges, determining the fate of the speaker at the podium. Tippit and Tina are sitting off to the side along the partition wall. Tina looks happy as she holds Tippet’s hand. Shane and Josie are sitting at the opposite wall, watching Tippit and Tina, shaking their heads. A sad example of the effects kissing ass can have on a lonely man’s heart. Alone, confident, and poised for greatness, Cameron gives her presentation at the podium. Behind her are drawings, pictures taken from the video tape they made, and enlarged copies of the pictographs she and Josie had discovered. Hanging on the front of the podium was a picture of Birdman lying on the bed of shells. With all the visual aids and the revelation of new discoveries about Cahokia’s demise, Cameron is a sure win for the scholarship.

But Tina seems too confident. The scene begins where the explanation left off at the cave. Cameron has already told the story we already heard in the burial chamber.

CAMERON(professional)

…and so we can say with

certainty, with all the given

evidence that I have provided,

that our friend here, Birdman, a

dissident of Cahokia’s rigid

political system, went south and

encouraged other settlements to

rebel against this great trade

center. We know this because he

traveled Cahokia’s trade routes

where he eventually settled into

this underground chamber to leave

his story behind…to us. And

than God he did.

The members don’t look impressed. Cameron notices this and gives an uneasy glance at her friends, then to Tina. Tina just closes her eyes smiling. Her look says “got ya.”

CAMERON

(continuing)

I think Dr. Jacobs would be happy

to know that his search and his

sacrifice in the name of

anthropology led to a great

discovery that will change what we

know of the fate of Cahokia.

Cameron expects an applause of some kind. What she gets is the cold shoulder, big time.

LARRY

(mechanical)

Thank you…miss…us…Loveless.

Nice job.

Cameron, Shane and Josie all have the same perplexed look.

CAMERON

“Nice job?”

MARY

Yes, very interesting theories.

Yet I’m not totally convinced.

I’m inclined to believe in my

husband’s earlier work. It’s a

little more proven. It still seems

more probable that a climate

change affected the farming.

Cameron’s mouth is hanging open. After all she went though, it comes to this.  Shane is shaking his head in disgust. Josie jumps to her feet.

JOSIE

When Tina spoke, she had no visual aids and

a five-minute speech.

Are you trying to say that all the evidence Cameron has given

you has failed to make you question that original theory?

LARRY

Young lady. I don’t mean to sound

rude but…but this doesn’t

concern you.

Josie’s nostrils flair. Shane has to grab her before she takes off after the man.  Cameron looks defeated, then perks up. She’s never been a quitter and she’s not about to start now.

CAMERON

With all due respect…sir…but

you’d have to understand what we

went through to bring you this

information. I don’t mean to

sound like a poor sport or

anything like that but…

TODD

But what? You expect us to

believe in these wild theories?

CAMERON

(shocked)

Wild theories?

(very animated)

You know, we not only uncovered a

completely unknown burial chamber

out in the middle of nowhere, and

found writing as reliable as the

Rosetta Stone telling us what

happened at Cahokia…which is

what this whole scholarship was

supposed to be about…but we also

found evidence of cannibalism

still practiced in the area as a

result of this Birdman, from tis

period, the Morrehead Phase…the

fall of Cahokia, between 1200 to

1250 a.d.

JOHNATHAN

So you expect us to believe that

cannibalism is still practiced.

Why?

CAMERON

As I’ve told you, as indicated by

the drawings and witnessed by me

and my friends, there are terrible deformities

among the people surrounding this burial chamber.

MARY

You’re saying that my husband was

a victim of this cannibalism?

CAMERON

These people have ceremonies every

fall and spring. Because of their

deformities they haven’t migrated

away from the area, and still

practice the same rituals as was

practiced in Cahokia.

LARRY

(laughing)

And they cut off people’s heads in

the fall and eat them in the

spring?

CAMERON

(determined)

Yes. Frazer in his book “The

Golden Bough” deals with this kind

of behavior by explaining “the

savage commonly believes that by

eating the flesh of an animal or

a man that he acquires not only

the physical, but even the moral

and intellectual qualities of that

life form.”

LARRY

So they killed Dr. Jacobs so they

could gain intelligence?

CAMERON

No! They wanted his body, to keep

the deformities from getting

worse. They cast away the head

hoping it would spring forth and

grow into new life.

The Foundation members all give each other impossible glances. Even Tina and Tippit participate. Tina feels her grip on the Foundation weakening.

TINA

Why this isolated little place in

the middle of nowhere?

CAMERON

(motioning to Josie

but addressing Tina)

This wasn’t. Cannibalism was

practiced in the area up to 1600 a.d.

The Foundation members are really rocked now. This is all new to them. Josie hands Cameron a picture. It’s a color photo of a circular object pale white in color. It’s a painted man, it looks like an archeological relic from mexico in design. In his right hand is a severed head. Cameron holds up the picture so everyone can see.

CAMERON

(continuing)

This is an engraved shell gorget.

this was uncovered from a mound at

Catlian Springs, in Sumner County,

Tennessee. It dates back to

around 1200 to 1600 a.d. The sand

Prairie Period.

LYNE

I didn’t know that.

CAMERON

That’s the point. There are a lot

of things we don’t know. we get

so wrapped up in trivial things.

(to Tina)

Like copying off a great man’s

work word for word because we are

not think for ourselves.

(to the Foundation)

We can get stuck by saying that

Cahokia, as a great city, failed

because of some crop damage. But

as the evidence suggests, that

would be the easy way out.

LARRY

So what’s this picture prove in

relation to your argument?

CAMERON

(amazed at Larry’s

ignorance)

Isn’t it obvious? In the next

period of the Mississippian

cultures, after Cahokia, we have

ceremonies similar to the city’s,

even off the main Mississippi

river way. This relic was

uncovered only fifty or so miles

west of this cave burial. This

goes along with Birdman’s cave

painting. He was a principal

advocate in leading other

Mississippi river cultures into

creating their own independent

societies, cutting out Cahokia,

weakening the ruler. It’s a

political upheaval.

There is confusion and tension among the Foundation members. Cameron reads it and addresses it like she does everything, directly.

CAMERON

(continuing)

You know…it doesn’t take a

genius to figure out what’s going

on here.

(pointing to Tina)

You’ve made buddies with her, and

you have made a conscious, or

subconscious decision to award her

the scholarship.

MARY

We haven’t made our decision final.

CAMERON

(holding up her hand)

It’s ok. I’ve worried about this

damn thing nearly all this school

year. I thought that by doing an

exceptional job, I’d surely get

it. But I’ve learned some real

lessons on this expedition…all

of these cities we’ve studied in

my four years of college have

something in common. They’re not

around any more. Most cities only

have a couple hundred years of

history…why?

She has everyone’s complete attention.

CAMERON

(continuing)

To me…this is why we study the

past…so that we can learn where

they failed and how we can

succeed. But there isn’t any

hope. Even in something as small

as us in this little room, in this

little hotel, we have political

upheavals and dysfunction.

LARRY

Miss!

CAMERON

(stern)

Let me finish! I bring you

overwhelming evidence of a great

number of key issues that not only

personally affect your supposed

goals, but also the issues that

greatly affect anthropology in

North America…and what do you

say? You attack me…hoping I’m

wrong so you can award your stupid

little scholarship to your new

friend.

Tina and Tippit look distressed.

CAMERON

(continuing)

I understand how the world works,

maybe all too well. I know deals

are made over important issues

that greatly affect our lives

every day over cups of coffee, and

a trip to an NBA basketball game.

And if you don’t participate in

those social activities, you’re

cast out. That’s how it works,

and I accept that.

The room is silent.

CAMERON

(continuing)

Just remember something. Remember

that if you give her this

scholarship based on how much you

like her, and not on the merit of

the work, you are participating in

an evil system that is tearing

apart the very world we live in.

If you want any evidence in that,

have a look at our political

system. Try to tell me we aren’t

falling right into our ancestor’s

foot steps.

(looking angry)

Go visit the White House, or

Capital Hill, and tell me they

aren’t different from this mound

at Cahokia…constructed to

impress, but serves nothing else

as a social function. Constructed

to manipulate a gullible public.

A tear rolls down Mary’s cheek. She is reminded of all the reasons she and her husband got involved in anthropology to begin with. How did she stray away from the path? How had they become so lost in a wilderness of lies and false smiles It takes a lecture from a young, idealistic woman…someone they’d all like to be, and were at one time…to remind them.

CAMERON

(continuing)

Just look where all the societies

that came before us ended up.

Then ask yourself if you want to

continue in their social

practices.

Cameron stands like a God above them on the podium and stares without fear. Then she turns around and RIPS down all her drawings and pictures. She KICKS over the podium. It falls with a HOLLOW THUD.

CAMERON

(continuing)

I’m outta here.

Shane puts his arm around her and leads her toward the back of the room. Josie gives the Foundation a death look as she passes them. Tippit looks distressed. He abruptly stands up.

TIPPIT

Cameron…wait!

Cameron stops at the back of the room by the door. It’s obvious that she’s been heartbroken and still clings to the hope that something positive will happen.

TIPPIT

(continuing; to Mary)

I think what’s happened here is

we’ve created a competition that

has brought out the worst result.

(to Tina)

It’s obvious that Cameron did

superior work on this project. I

think I have a solution where we

all benefit.

Cameron is interested, but totally confused.

————————————————————————–

I was not satisfied that Cahokia’s demise was the standard until my wife and I visited the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula.  We had visited the Cahokia site before and I wanted to compare the ancient city with one of the closest neighbors to the south, the Chichen complex with its iconic stone pyramids all built with astrological recognition, just like at Cahokia.

See clips from that trip here:

At Chichen Itza human sacrifice was the norm and the site was magnificent as it had been abandoned by 1204 AD from a once thriving metropolis, rivaling any city anywhere in the world.  Obviously, there was trading going on between Chichen Itza and the Mississippi Culture of North America that was quite sophisticated.  Both societies rose and fell around the same time within 100 years of one another. In Cahokia the people there worshiped “Bird Man” and in Chichen Itza they worshiped Kukulkan the featherd serpent – otherwise, another “birdman.” Chichen Itza rose to power just as its large neighbor to the north Teotihaucan fell from grace.  Teotihuacan (pronounced /ˈtɛɔˌtiwɑˈkɑn/),[1] also written Teotihuacán, was a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican city located in the Basin of Mexico, 30 miles (48 km) northeast of modern-day Mexico City, which is today known as the site of many of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids built in the pre-Columbian Americas. Apart from the pyramids, Teotihuacan is also anthropologically significant for its complex, multi-family residential compounds, the Avenue of the Dead, and the small portion of its vibrant murals that have been exceptionally well-preserved. Additionally, Teotihuacan produced a thin orange pottery style that spread through Mesoamerica.[2]

The city is thought to have been established around 100 BC and continued to be built until about 250 AD.[3] The city may have lasted until sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries AD. At its zenith, perhaps in the first half of the 1st millennium AD, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas, with a population of perhaps 125,000 or more,[3][4] placing it among the largest cities of the world in this period.[5] Teotihuacan began as a new religious center in the Mexican Highland around the first century AD. This city came to be the largest and most populated center in the New World. Teotihuacan was even home to multi-floor apartment compounds built to accommodate this large population.[3] The civilization and cultural complex associated with the site is also referred to as Teotihuacan or Teotihuacano.  Oh, and guess what, the consensus among scholars is that the primary deity of Teotihuacan was the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan.[30] Politics were based on the state religion; and the religious leaders were the political leaders.[31]

Teotihuacanos practiced human sacrifice: human bodies and animal sacrifices have been found during excavations of the pyramids at Teotihuacan. Scholars believe that the people offered human sacrifices as part of a dedication when buildings were expanded or constructed. The victims were probably enemy warriors captured in battle and brought to the city for ritual sacrifice to ensure the city could prosper.[32] Some men were decapitated, some had their hearts removed, others were killed by being hit several times over the head, and some were buried alive. Animals that were considered sacred and represented mythical powers and military were also buried alive, imprisoned in cages: cougars, a wolf, eagles, a falcon, an owl, and even venomous snakes.[33]

After our visit to Chichen Itza my wife and I had a very elegant dinner that night but I didn’t taste a morsel of food.  From our seat the Caribbean Sea was brilliantly captured by nighttime broken clouds outlined by a full moon.  My wife was wearing a very elegant dress that blew about carelessly in the constant breeze, yet I ate the food without tasting any of it as my mind was thousands of miles away on Cahokia.  I told my wife after our visit to Chichen Itza that my theories about the demise of Cahokia were 100% correct and society did not have the courage to look itself in the eye and admit the truth—that sacrifice is the key to all social decline.  The sense of giving things up is the sign that soon, mankind will resort back to spears and grass skirts as opposed to elegant food, silk dresses, perfumed bodies and the gusts of wind from the Caribbean Sea carrying the aroma a well-prepared food across open air elegant restaurants.

Without question when Cahokia, Chichen Itza and Teotihaucan were being built, the people had a sense of purpose.  There was need for innovation, creativity, and much thought.  But once the cities were built, the second-handlers came into play, the politicians, the religious leaders and the bureaucrats took over and attempted to claim the good work of the creators with mystic dedication and sacrifice to Gods only they could see, for devices only they could understand.  Thus, the receipt for disaster is present whenever sacrifice is utilized in any society as the highest attribute. Social decline is a foregone conclusion.

Many times over the years out of need for money I considered making Cannibals of Cahokia into strictly a “horror” script.  I thought about dumbing it down so the bar-hopping socialites in Santa Monica could get their minds around the story and accept it.  I thought of doing all the things they suggested, but ultimately shelved it instead.  By changing the story, I would be surrendering to the kind of evil that destroys society.  I would be yielding to the kind of villains that Cameron was fighting at the end of The Lost Cannibals of Cahokia—and I couldn’t do it.

When I talk about the failure of education in modern society, or the villainy of communism, socialism, and all degrees of statism, it is not out of modern propaganda, but in a knowledge of history that has resulted from personal experience that took two decades to learn.  I essentially made Cameron Loveless a female version of myself, and I couldn’t betray her for the same reasons I can’t betray myself.

I read in the January 2011 edition of National Geographic where writer Glenn Hodges provided a discouraged report of his trip to Cahokia by stating, “I’m standing at the center of what was once the greatest civilization between the deserts of Mexico and the North American Arctic — America’s first city and arguably American Indians’ finest achievement — and I just can’t get past the four lane gash that cuts through this historic site.  Instead of imagining the thousands of people who once teemed on the grand plaza here, I keep returning to the fact that Cahokia Mounds in Illinois is one of only eight cultural World Heritage sites in the United States, and it’s got a billboard for Joe’s Carpet King smack in the middle of it.”  Hodges is essentially dealing with a pain that I dealt with at the start of writing The Lost Cannibals of Cahokia.

I thought that by writing the screenplay and having it made into a movie, that I could bring awareness to Cahokia, and help Americans learn an important part of their heritage that had long been forgotten — and even ignored.  But soon I realized that the ending of my screenplay reflected too accurately the reality of modern politics, which is persistent in virtually every human endeavor.  And that reality wants to ignore Cahokia, not remember it.  After all, there is nothing like a giant 100 foot pyramid sitting next to one of the busiest highway systems in world to tell everyone that it’s there.  Yet people do not see it — they don’t want to see it — because they are inclined to make the same mistakes as the Cahokians did with a dedicated life to sacrifice instead of thinking creativity.  Therefore, America as it stands now is in the declining epoch of its cycle, approaching 300 years of life, and failing because its philosophy of self-reliance and freedom has abated to the soothsaying mystics of Europe and their persistent desire to rule the world through regulations, paper, and legislation they control to the Gods only they wish to see.  This is why when Europeans first came to America they saw the American Indian not in a state of peace with nature, but in a degraded state of primitive re-invention.  This is also why Europe was cast into the Dark Ages after Rome fell to the barbarian hoards.  The cycle repeats over and over and over again, because human beings never learn, and have no desire to even look at the evidence that is so obvious.  The reason is that the information is inconvenient, and requires courage in thought, the kind of courage that made Cameron Loveless such a heroic character who lives in an age when she is hated for her goodness, and ability to see what is really there.

Rich Hoffman

166701_584023358276159_1119605693_n“If they attack first………..blast em’!”

www.tailofthedragonbook.com