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Archeologist shares information about Native American life in the Ouachita’s

FOLO Lake Ouachita Indian presentationThe Friends of Lake Ouachita, Inc. program describing Ancient Native Americans life in Ouachita Mountains was held at the Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters building located near the Blakely Mountain Dam on Monday February 3, 2020.

The program’s featured speaker was Dr. Mary Beth Trubitt an Archeologist for the Arkansas Archeological Survey and a Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Arkansas. Dr. Trubitt currently heads the Survey’s Research Station at Henderson Sate University in Arkadelphia.  

A crowd of approximately one hundred members of the public interested in life along the Ouachita River prior to the development of Lake Ouachita attended the program.

Dr. Trubitt spoke of the processes of archeological studies of the long history of native inhabitants in Arkansas.  She wove the threads of a story of how the scant evidence of pottery pieces, stone tools, along with carbon-dated evidence of structures create a picture of ancient life. 

She gave the example of finding a fire pit with burnt hickory nuts that were carbon dated to be thousands of years old as an example of determining what the inhabitants depended upon for food.    Another source of information is the oral histories of the descendants of these tribes still maintained to this day. 

She pointed out studies have determined the Caddo Nation, one of the three tribes of ancient Arkansas, lived in the Ouachita Mountains of southeastern Arkansas along the Red and Ouachita Rivers from AD 1000-1700.  In this period they built farming communities, towns, planting crops of maze, beans, pumpkins and squash to supplement the wild GAME provided by their hunters. 

Speaking specifically of the Lake Ouachita area she provided a photo of a clear quartz crystal arrowhead found near where the dam was being constructed as evidence of the Caddo living on the river.  She also showed photos of what appeared to be just flat stones but in reality were stones notched on each side and tied to nets for fishing as evidence of another item in their diet.

Dr. Trubitt described how the Caddo traded with other tribes as far away as Mexico and Florida based upon evidence found in those areas of tools of novaculite produced here in the Ouachita’s where the mineral is found in abundance.

In conclusion she spoke of how the pressures of modern immigrants seeking land eventually pushed the Caddo out of Arkansas into northern Louisiana then into the Indian territories of the new state of Oklahoma.  The CADDO descendants of today never formed a reservation and chose instead to divide the lands among the people where they live today maintaining the oral history, language and customs of their ancient relatives.

Dr. Trubitt fielded questions from the attendees who shared their experiences of finding artifacts on their farms and ranches.  The presentation was well received as many of the attendees spoke with pride of having ancestors who share the bloodlines of these early inhabitants.

The Friends of Lake Ouachita thanked the Corps of Engineers for their support of the program and the use of their beautiful facility.

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