Park dedicated to remember Native American ancestors
Gov. Mike Beebe and other notable administrators and officials joined together to dedicate UALR’s new Trail of Tears Park despite a rainy forecast.
The ceremony Oct. 12 marked the official opening of the Trail of Tears Park at UALR, part of the Coleman Greenway project that began in 2005.
Representatives of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations, local and state officials and UALR administrators and partners joined to dedicate the new park, which is located near UALR’s south entrance off Asher Avenue.
The dedication began at 1 p.m. with a commencement speech by UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson, who referred to the new park as a “great national asset.”
“In 1830, Congress passed the Federal Indian Removal Act with support from president Andrew Jackson, as a means of seizing the lands held by five Native American tribes, said Anderson. “The Trail of Tears ought to be viewed as a shameful part of our country’s past.”
Gov. Mike Beebe attended the ceremony and also gave a brief speech in which he celebrated the creation of the park and the efforts of those involved. “Anytime we create or preserve green space for our people, it is a moment to celebrate,” said Gov. Mike Beebe. “We can never forget the fact there needs to be a place, more often than not a series of places, for us to remember.”
The tract of land the park sits on, which is on the west bank of Coleman Creek, was previously “4.5 acres of asphalt and rock,” as Anderson described it in his speech. It is located near a spot where thousands of Native Americans, predominately Choctaw and Chickasaw, stopped for water on their march toward Indian territories in the west.
“Landscape engineers believe the Trail of Tears Park and subsequent Coleman Creek Greenway will be the biggest project of de-urbanization in the history of Arkansas,” according to a quote by Dave Millay featured of UALR’s website.
The project is part of UALR’s Master Plan, “On the Move,” which proposes the creation of a 47-acre greenway that will eventually stretch across the entire campus.
The project also plans to connect the greenway to surrounding locales, including the Fourche Creek Wetlands and War Memorial Park.
The park was financed by $650,000 of donations from such entities as FTN Associates, Audubon Arkansas, The Riggs Family and Design Consultants, Inc.