Native-American cities before Columbus
Roy Wenzl reports at Kansas.com:
Make note of the name Etzanoa, a long-lost city. Donald Blakeslee says he’s found it.
The discovery could put south-central Kansas on the map as the second-biggest settlement of Native Americans found in the United States, Blakeslee said. And it’s now, finally, the known location of a 1601 battle pitting outnumbered Spaniards firing cannon into waves of attacking Indian warriors.
Etzanoa has remained a mystery for 400 years. Archaeologists could not find it. Historians thought reports of a permanent settlement with 20,000 Native Americans in it were exaggerated.
But here in Arkansas City, at the confluence of the Walnut and Arkansas Rivers, Blakeslee, an anthropologist and archaeologist at Wichita State University, has found evidence of a massive town stretching across thousands of acres of bluffs and rich bottomland along two rivers. What clinched it was the discovery, by a high school kid, of a half-inch iron cannon ball.
He even found a still-functional water shrine, depicting communication with the spirit world, carved into a limestone boulder in Tami and Greg Norwood’s backyard.
It’s a good story, all true, Blakeslee said: A lost city, a forgotten mythology — and the story of the once-great Wichita Nation, decimated by European diseases, then pushed aside by American settlers and the United States Army.
Amazed by the size
With the discovery, Arkansas City leaders are hoping to turn their town into a tourist destination.
“We always knew we once had a whole bunch of Indians living around here, because we had found way too many artifacts to think otherwise,” said Jay Warren, an Arkansas City council member. “But we had no idea until Dr. Blakeslee came along about how big it was.”
Etzanoa might have been comparable in size to Cahokia, Blakeslee said. That alone should bring world attention.
The Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in western Illinois, with its pyramid Monk’s Mound, is the biggest Native American urban complex ever built in the United States. It showcases the 14.4-acre mound that was the centerpiece of the ancient city, along with the outlines of the city, enclosed by fortress walls and filled with shrines of a powerful mythology and culture outside St. Louis.
Cahokia — the remnants of the largest pre-Columbian settlement north of Mexico — attracts 400,000 visitors a year, a fact that gets the attention of Arkansas Citians. If Etzanoa was bigger, “and it might have been,” that will rewrite American history, Blakeslee said.
“The Spaniards were amazed by the size of Etzanoa,” Blakeslee said. “They counted 2,000 houses that could hold 10 people each. They said it would take two or three days to walk through it all.” . . .