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This essay discusses Cahokia and ChacoCanyon cultures, the rise of each of them and how maize (corn) and weather played a role in their rise and fall. These societies were among the early cultures that developed in the MississippianValley whose success depended mainly on agriculture and weather (Anderson, 1988: 87). These particular two cultures developed in two different times and region. Cahokia and ChacoCanyon developed during different times and on two different regions. However, they had a lot of factors in common lead to their rise and fall.

Rise of the Cahokia and Chaco

Canyon Culture Cahokia culture started developing in about A.D. 600 as indicated by mounds and other features while ChacoCanyon culture developed as from A.D. 850. With warmer condition developing over the MississippianValley, maize was introduced into the region to replace the original crops. These areas received adequate rain with warm weather. There were also biannual floods that kept the river valleys fertile to support maize crop for a very long period of time to enable the societies develop and thrive (Anderson, 1988: 95). The cultures grew rapidly due to adequate food as a result of maize farming. They interspersed among the maize other crops like beans squash and sunflowers that also boosted food supply. Although there is little evidence on Cahokia peoples ever doing much towards controlling floods for farming or irrigation of the valleys, they undoubtedly used simple hoes and thorough weeding of the farms to improve yield from the fields. ChacoCanyon culture, on the other hand, used unified irrigation systems on their crops. The irrigation system included rain runoff from the cliffs and water from the Chaco floods.

Effect of climate changes on the two cultures

Initial change of weather of the Cahokia and ChacoCanyon regions to hot and wet enabled the growing of maize crops into the regions (Stein, 1994: 54). With biannual floods and fertile soils due to the floods, they managed to grow maize twice a year resulting to high food supply and hence rapid population growth. Later change of weather to dry meant no flood to boost soil fertility and water to use for irrigation. Growing of maize declined and hence food supply. These lead to frequent warfare for fertile lands and collapse of some societies like Cahokia and ChacoCanyon.

Role of maize in the rise and collapse of the two urban centers

The rise of both societies is attributed to growing of maize by the societies after its introduction in the regions. Maize was favored by the new hot and wet climate of the regions, and hence boosted food security (Stein, 1994: 65). The development of the societies continued for a long time until the weather could no longer support maize growing due to draught and absence of flood to boost soil fertility.


From the discussions, we can clearly see that the development and fall of the societies were directly linked to maize growing which in turn depended on weather and floods. During the right weather, these societies had a lot of food from maize growing and were thus able to create wealth and rapidly increase their population growth rate. However, when weather changed, they were but just part of history.

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