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Sequoyah Research Center

UALR Site Report, Part I

Coleman Creek Trail of Tears Park
on the
Choctaw and Chickasaw Trail of Tears:
Historical Contexts Report

Prepared for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Amanda L. Paige
Fuller L. Bumpers
Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr., Director

Sequoyah National Research Center

Research for this report was funded in part by a Challenge Cost Share agreement with the Long Distance Trails Office of the National Park Service, Santa Fe, New Mexico. No part of the text may be duplicated or otherwise used except by permission of the authors or as provided for by the “Special Provision” section of the National Park Service agreement.

Submitted to the National Park Service June 15, 2003
Revised, without Park Service input, August 4, 2003;
September 26, 2005; October 10, 2009

Part I: Introduction

Little Rock was little more than a cluster of crude houses when the Indian Removal Act was passed in 1830. During the next decade and a half, as the Act was executed, thousands of Choctaws, Muscogees, Florida Indians, Chickasaws, and Cherokees were removed from their ancestral lands east of the Mississippi to new areas west of Arkansas, their journeys becoming known collectively through history as the Trail of Tears. The existing travel routes ensured that a majority of these tribal people traveled through central Arkansas, either on the river or by land. Those who chose the latter either crossed at the ferry over the Arkansas River at Little Rock and went southwest to the Red River country or took the Military Road to the northwest toward Fort Smith. During removal more than 40,000 tribal people moved through the area. From the time the Choctaw removal began in late 1831 until the end of the 1830s, large groups of Indians were common on the roads. The large groups who journeyed southwest from Little Rock to the Red River country took the old Southwest Trail, which took them past the site of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The segment of Asher Avenue that forms the southern boundary of the University campus is on the site of the old road according to GIS map projections. Because of the University’s occupation of this historic landscape, the central administration has asked for the erection of a marker to direct public notice to the historic event of Choctaw and Chickasaw removal during the decade of the 1830s.

What follows is a presentation of historical evidence and interpretation that will help University personnel and the Trail of Tears Marker Committee design an appropriate public marker to commemorate Choctaw and Chickasaw history. Presented first is a description of the physical features of the site and its surroundings; second, a description of land and water routes that brought removal parties to, and took them from, the site; third, a detailed historical documentation of Choctaw and Chickasaw removal through the site; fourth, an analysis of conditions of travel on the routes in Arkansas; and fifth, evidence of cultural survival on the trail.

Updated 6.14.2010