Special programs display Arkansas heritage

By Wayne Bryan Originally Published April 28, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated April 26, 2013 at 10:42 a.m.
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Mary Beth Trubitt, archeologist and professor at Henderson State University, holds a Caddo Indian pot discovered from an archeological dig along the Saline River between Malvern and Hot Springs. Programs about the Native Americans who have lived in the region for thousands of years will be among the topics covered in an exhibit and presentation offered during May as part of Arkansas Heritage Month.

In May, archeologists and historians will celebrate Arkansas Heritage Month with exhibits and presentations around the state.

Tri-Lakes area residents will have an opportunity to attend programs about the state’s ancient inhabitants, the Civil War and the Great Depression during the month, created and presented by members of the Ouachita Chapter of the Arkansas Archeological Society.

In addition, the four exhibits being presented in Clark, Garland, Saline and Montgomery counties will be available for display at schools, libraries and local museums following Heritage Month activities.

“We have been doing this every year since 1983,” said Melissa Whitfield, communications director for the Arkansas Heritage Commission. “We have a grant program that helps local groups make presentations about what is special about their town or area.”

In Arkadelphia, historians will discuss home life during the Civil War with a lecture by Jamie Brandon, the research station archeologist at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia.

“Through archeology, we can find out things about the Civil War that go beyond the history books,” said Brandon, who is vice chairman of the Arkansas Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission. “The war impacted everything about life in the region, including life on the home front.”

Two members of the Ouachita Chapter of the Arkansas Archeological Society, Judy Thye and Lyn Welland, will talk about things that have been found during study of the Barman House, a Civil War-era home on the campus of Henderson State University.

The program will be held at 1:30 p.m. May 9 at the Clark County Historical Museum on South Street. For more information, call (870) 230-1360.

Meeks Etchieson, heritage program manager for the Ouachita National Forest, will present two separate programs.

On May 15, he will speak on the ancient mounds and structures of the Caddo Indians in Montgomery County, assisted by Mary Little, a member of the Ouachita Chapter of the archeological society. The program will be at 12:30 p.m. at the Montgomery County Library in Mount Ida. For more information, call (870) 867-3812.

Two days later, on May 17, Meeks will be part of a presentation on the Civilian Conservation Corps in Garland County with Ouachita Chapter member Cheryl Jerrels. The CCC played a major role in building what became state parks at Lake Ouachita and Lake Catherine.

The program will be held at 2 p.m. at the Garland County Library on Malvern Avenue in Hot Springs. For more information, call (501) 623-4161.

Another program on the Caddo Indians, this time in Saline County, will be held at 6:30 p.m. May 16 at the Bob Herzfeld Memorial Library in Benton. Vanessa Hanvey of Henderson State University and Ouachita Chapter member Janice Fisher will make their presentation on the mounds built by the ancient residents along the Saline River hundreds of years ago. For more information, call (501) 778-4766.

“These mound sites and structures are important parts of our landscape,” said Mary Trubitt, an archeologist at Henderson State University who has found many artifacts from the Caddo people in the region. “Most are on private land, and the property owners have protected the mounds for years.

“One of the things we wanted to pass along to people with this presentations and exhibits this month is that these places are important and must be saved.”

The exhibits used in the talks are all portable freestanding displays and can be taken to schools and other locations for educational purposes.

“With grants from the Department of Arkansas Heritage, we worked for several months with the Arkansas Archeological Survey to create banners with pictures and texts that are 5 feet wide by 7.5 feet tall,” Trubitt said. “These will be available after the presentation in May.”

For more information about the exhibits, call Trubitt at (870) 230-5510.

Staff writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at (501) 244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

Tri-Lakes Edition Writer Wayne Bryan can be reached at 501-244-4460 or wbryan@arkansasonline.com.

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