Kathleen O'Neal Gear & W Michael Gear

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Tag Archives: Cahokia

Book Signing yesterday

We had such a great time at our book signing yesterday in Cody, Wyoming. Legends Bookstore did a fantastic job and we met so many wonderful people. If you need a signed copy for a holiday gift, Legends still has a few signed copies available. Please call Teresa: 307-586-2320, or email her at: legendsbookscody@gmail.com, and she’ll get an autographed copy in the mail to you ASAP.

Hope everyone is well out there. We’re having an unusually warm winter here.

Happy Holidays,

Mike and Kathy

Background for SUN BORN.




The largest “Lost City” in the world is in the United States. It’s called Cahokia.  It was a huge metroplex that lasted nearly three hundred years. Today what remains of the city is scattered throughout—and under–the sprawl of St Louis and lies on both sides of the Mississippi River.

This isn’t our first novel about Cahokia. We’ve been fascinated by this ancient city for three decades.  We started writing about it in PEOPLE OF THE RIVER. And, as new research poured in, finally wrote PEOPLE OF THE MORNING STAR. Cahokia–a city that would have swallowed its eleventh century competitors, London, Paris, and Rome—is mysterious and mesmerizing. Today it consists of large mounds of earth. But these are just the foundations, as if New York City were scrapped away by a giant bulldozer. What made Cahokia into one of the largest cities in the world? What brought tens of thousands of people streaming into the central Mississippi Valley to build the magnificent mounds, causeways, and stunning five-story temples?


(Credit: Townsend mural. Cahokia Mounds)

Archaeologists suspect it was religion, specifically a messiah figure called “Morning Star.” The renown of a living god would have traveled up and down the rivers, word of his coming carried across mountains and down the trails by traders. And the people came, settling in the living god’s proximity in one of the most fertile agricultural valleys in the world.

We also suspect word might have eventually reached Mayan traders who plied the Gulf waters and sailed out into the Carribean. Which begs the question: What would the Itza Maya in Chichen Itza have made of the story of a resurrected god? Especially since it cleaves so closely to the Maya’s own stories of the resurrected heroes from the beginning times.

In SUN BORN we provide a possible answer, one compatible with the tantalizing bits and pieces in the archaeological record. With SUN BORN the story of Seven Skull Shield, Clan Keeper Blue Heron, the truculent Fire Cat, and Lady Night Shadow Star continues. But this time, the Itza lord, Thirteen Sacred Jaguar is coming, and he has a secret. One that has the power to topple Cahokia, and ruin the lives of its most beloved citizens.

Truly, Cahokia was one of the magnificent cities of the prehistoric world. We hope you enjoy this story about ancient America.

Cahokian civilization. Epic fire 900 years ago…

Cahokia- TownsendMural300dpi7x3-x

Was the epic fire that destroyed more than 100 buildings around AD 1170 an accident?  Maybe a ritual cleansing?  Or an act of warfare?  Archaeologists have lots of ideas, but the event did mark the beginning of the end.  People of the Morning Star is set about a hundred years before the great fire, but you can see the seeds of discontent building…


Thanks for the great reviews!

Thank you Beth Colvin of People of the Morning StarThe Advocate for your very kind review of our book about Cahokia: http://theadvocate.com/entertainment/books/9677887-123/people-of-morning-star-reveals 

And thanks, also, to Betty Lytle of The Oklahoman:
We very much appreciate the time you each took to read the novel, and write reviews.  Thanks so much.


We are finally home from the SAA meetings in Austin with our brains alive with new and fascinating information. The sessions on Mississippian mound builder iconography were fabulous. We’ll write more about this in our upcoming May Newsletter, but one of the most intriguing new discoveries is that Cahokian artwork, for example that found on gorgets (pendants), has an internal grammar (a system of standardized symbols) that Cahokians used to tell stories. Most interestingly, they told the stories in pieces, so that you only get the full story if you put the pieces of the puzzle together. For example, you must “stack” gorgets to see how the story progresses from beginning to end. Our panel entitled, “Heresy in the Tower: Writing Fiction about Archaeology,” which was graciously sponsored by Dr. Linda Scott Cummings of Paleo Research Institute, and moderated by former Utah State Archaeologist, Kevin Jones (author of the wonderful novel, THE SHRINKING JUNGLE), was both fun and enlightening. We always learn so much from others. Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the panel, especially new SAA President, Diane Gonzales, and Dr. Laura Scheiber. Everyone’s observations made for some fantastic conversations.

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