Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Lost Native American city Etzanoa may be found in Kansas

- By Roy Wenzl

ARKANSAS CITY, Kan. — Donald Blakeslee says he’s found Etzanoa, a longlost city.

Etzanoa is the second-biggest settlement of Native Americans found in the United States, Mr. Blakeslee said. Now it is the known location of a 1601 battle pitting outnumbere­d Spaniards firing cannons into waves of attacking Indian warriors.

Etzanoa has been 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 in Arkansas City, at the confluence of the Walnut and Arkansas Rivers, Mr. Blakeslee, an anthropolo­gist and archaeolog­ist at Wichita State University, over the past two years has found evidence of a town stretching across thousands of acres of bluffs and rich bottomland along two rivers. What clinched it was the discovery, by a high school student, of a halfinch iron cannon ball.

It’s a good story, all true, Mr. Blakeslee said: A lost city, a forgotten mythology — and the story of the oncegreat Wichita Nation, decimated by European diseases, and then pushed aside by white settlers and the U.S. Army.

Etzanoa might have been comparable in size to Cahokia, Mr. 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 U.S. It showcases the 14.4-acre mound that was the centerpiec­e of the ancient city and the outlines of the city, enclosed by walls and filled with shrines of a powerful mythology and culture outside St. Louis.

If Etzanoa was bigger, “and it might have been,” that will rewrite American history, Mr. Blakeslee said.

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