Tag Archives: Quapaw Tribe

The American Revolution in Arkansas

Because Arkansas was part of the Louisiana Territory, and under the Spanish flag, one does not think about there being any Revolutionary War battles being fought on Arkansas soil.

But on April 17, 1783, the British and Spanish skirmished at Arkansas Post.  Sometimes known as Colbert’s Raid, this was part of a four year campaign of intermittent efforts by the British to stop the Spaniards from funneling money and supplies to the colonists via the Mississippi River.

James Colbert, a former British Army captain, led a loose group of British mercenaries as well as anti-Spanish members of the Chickasaw tribe on a series of raids in Louisiana and the lower Mississippi area.  He targeted Fort Carlos at Arkansas Post because of its proximity to the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers.

The Fort had 33 Spanish soldiers and four members of the Quapaw tribe.  Colbert had over 80 men with him.  After an initial attack on the Post, several residents made it to the Fort which was then attacked.  Expecting surrender (and indeed there had been a brief truce), instead a Spanish sortie of 14 faced the 82. Shouting Quapaw war cries and firing their muskets, under the cover of darkness, this sortie surprised and confused the Colbert party.  Convinced that a large collection of Quapaw was attacking them, they scattered and retreated.

Today, the National Park Service at Arkansas Post offers information on this battle, one of the last of the Revolutionary War (and a full 18 months after Cornwallis surrendered to Washington at Yorktown).

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Anne Frank trees in Little Rock

On June 12, 1929, Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany.  Through her diary, she has inspired generations with her courage as her family was in hiding from the Nazis.  During the two years she and her family were in seclusion, she looked out and saw a white horse chestnut tree from her window.

In 2009, the Anne Frank Center USA announced an initiative to place saplings from the tree at various locations throughout the United States.  Little Rock became the only city to receive two saplings.  One to be placed at Central High School, the other to be placed at the Clinton Presidential Center.

The Clinton Foundation and the Sisterhood of Congregation B’nai Israel, in conjunction with the Anne Frank Center USA, joined together to create a powerful exhibit, The Anne Frank Tree, located on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Park.  The permanent installation, which surrounds the Anne Frank Tree sapling, was dedicated on October 2, 2015.

Anne’s tree would outlive her by more than 50 years before being weakened by disease and succumbing to a windstorm in 2010. But today, thanks to dozens of saplings propagated in the months before its death, Anne’s tree lives on in cities and towns around the world.

The Anne Frank Tree installation at the Clinton Center consists of five framed, etched glass panels – arranged to evoke the feeling of being inside a room – surrounded by complementary natural landscaping. The two front panels feature quotes from Anne Frank and President Clinton. The three additional panels convey the complex history of human rights in Arkansas through descriptions of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and the Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis of 1957. These panels feature quotes from Chief Heckaton, hereditary chief of the Quapaw during Arkansas’s Indian Removal; George Takei, Japanese-American actor who was interned at the Rohwer Relocation Center in Desha County, Arkansas, in 1942; and Melba Pattillo Beals, of the Little Rock Nine.

In collaboration with the Clinton Foundation, Little Rock landscape architect Cinde Bauer and Ralph Appelbaum Associates, exhibit designer for both the Center and The National Holocaust Museum, assisted in the design of the exhibit. The installation has been made possible thanks to the support of the Ben J. Altheimer Charitable Foundation, TRG Foundation, and other generous partners.

Little Rock Look Back: La Harpe and La Petite Roche

On April 9, 1722, French explorer Jean-Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe rounded the bend of the Arkansas River and saw La Petite Roche and Le Rocher Français.  He had entered the mouth of the Arkansas River on February 27 after traveling up the Mississippi River from New Orleans.

Though La Harpe and his expedition are the first Europeans documented to have seen La Petite Roche, the outcropping of rocks was well-known to the Quapaw Indians in the area.  The outcropping jutted out in the Arkansas River and created a natural harbor which provided a perfect place for boats to land.

The rock outcropping is the first one visible along the banks of the Arkansas River.  It marks the place where the Mississippi Delta meets the Ouachita Mountains.  Geologists now believe that the Little Rock is not the same type of rock as the Ouachita Mountains and more closely matches the composition and age of mountains in the western US.

In 1813, William Lewis became the first European settler to live near La Petite Roche but only stayed a few months.  Speculators and trappers continued to visit the area throughout the 1810s. During that time, the outcropping became known informally as the Little Rock.

La Petite Roche had become a well-known crossing when the Arkansas Territory was established in 1819. The permanent settlement of ‘The Rock’ began in the spring of 1820, and the first building has been described as a cabin, or shanty, and was built on the bank of the river near the ‘Rock.’ In March 1820, a Post Office was established at the ‘Rock’ with the name “Little Rock.”

Over the years, La Petite Roche was altered.  In 1872, Congress authorized the building of a railroad bridge. A pier for the bridge was built at the location of the La Petite Roche which caused the removal of several tons of rock.  The bridge was never built.  When the Junction Bridge was built in 1899, even more rock was removed in the process of erecting part of the bridge on top of the rock.  It was not viewed as being disrespectful of the City’s namesake at the time.  Indeed, it was viewed as a testament to the sturdiness of the rock.

In 2010, La Petite Roche plaza opened in Riverfront Park.  It celebrates the history of La Petite Roche and explores its importance to various aspects of Little Rock’s history and geography.

Little Rock Look Back: Arkansas Territory Established

Arkansas TerritoryOn March 2, 1819, the Arkansas Territory was authorized by an act of Congress, to take effect  on July 4, 1819.

The Arkansas Territory was created from the portion of the Missouri Territory. It originally encompassed all of what is now Arkansas and much of what is now Oklahoma. The westernmost portion of the territory was removed on November 15, 1824, a second westernmost portion was removed on May 6, 1828, reducing the territory to the extent of the present state of Arkansas.

The Territorial capital was Arkansas Post from July 1819 until June 1821. At that point in time it was moved to Little Rock. In 1819, there was no permanent settlement in Little Rock. It would not be until early February 1820 that a permanent settlement would be established.  On 1818, the Quapaw Treaty had anticipated a future settlement in Little Rock.

Little Rock Look Back: 199 Years of the Quapaw Line

Stones placed in Riverfront Park denote where there Quapaw Line started from La Petite Roche
Stones placed in Riverfront Park denote where there Quapaw Line started from La Petite Roche

On August 24, 1818, the Quapaw Line was drawn.  Starting at La Petite Roche and heading due south, this line formed the boundary between the Quapaw tribe lands and public lands available for settlement.  Though by 1824, the Quapaw were forced to give up all of their lands, the line continued serve as an important marker.  In the ensuing six years, the first permanent settlement of Little Rock took place and streets were planned.It is interesting to note that the 1818 treaty referred to La Petite Roche as the Little Rock.  Some have speculated that this is the first official use of “Little Rock” to designate the outcropping.  When the Post Office was established in March 1820, it was given the name Little Rock.

There is a marker commemorating the beginning of the Quapaw Line located at La Petite Roche in Riverfront Park.  The first segment of the line is also noted in the park.  There are also sunken markers place along the line at various points.  In MacArthur Park, at the corner of 9th and Commerce Streets, there is a marker noting that the line passed through at that location.

A good account of walking the Quapaw Line through downtown Little Rock can be found on this website.

Most of what is now called the Quapaw Quarter was located to the west of the Quapaw Line.  However, it did take its name from the fact that the tribe had once lived in that area and was later sequestered to lands near it.  The name for the area was chosen by a committee composed of David D. Terry, Peg Newton Smith, Mrs. Walter Riddick Sr., Dr. John L. Ferguson, and James Hatcher. They had been appointed to a Significant Structures Technical Advisory Committee to advocate for preservation of important structures as a component of the City of Little Rock’s urban renewal efforts.

Little Rock Look Back: Creation of the Arkansas Territory

Arkansas TerritoryOn March 2, 1819, the Arkansas Territory was authorized by an act of Congress, to take effect  on July 4, 1819.

The Arkansas Territory was created from the portion of the Missouri Territory. It originally encompassed all of what is now Arkansas and much of what is now Oklahoma. The westernmost portion of the territory was removed on November 15, 1824, a second westernmost portion was removed on May 6, 1828, reducing the territory to the extent of the present state of Arkansas.

The Territorial capital was Arkansas Post from July 1819 until June 1821. At that point in time it was moved to Little Rock. In 1819, there was no permanent settlement in Little Rock. It would my be until early 1820 that a permanent settlement would be established.  On 1818, the Quapaw Treaty had anticipated a future settlement in Little Rock.

Sculpture Vulture: Native Knowledge

Native American Face

November is Native American Heritage Month.  One way to learn more about Native Americans in Little Rock’s history is to visit Riverfront Park.

There are several exhibits in the park that discuss the importance of Native Americans in this region prior to and since the settlement of Little Rock.  Denny Haskew’s Native Knowledge is a tribute to the Caddo, Osage, and Quapaw Native American Cultures of Arkansas.

It is sited near the Quapaw Line and La Petite Roche.  The location is important because the Quapaw Line was used as demarcation to separate the Quapaw Tribe from land available for white settlers.  It ran from La Petite Roche due south.  In addition, La Petite Roche was a stop along the “Trail of Tears” as Native American tribes were resettled from their original homes in the American Southeast to points west.

Three bronze twice life-size representational sculptures are mounted on 6” thick hexagonal buff colored sandstone panels suspended between I-beam arches representing the outline of theout canoes of the Osage, Caddo and Quapaw. The bronze sculptures are patinated to match the stone panels giving the appearance of being carved from stone. The back of each panel is etched with a pottery design from each of the three tribes mentioned above.