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The Trail of Tears and St. Francis River Pots

Saturday morning came very early for me. I was up at 4:30 trying to figure out how to set out breakfast without waking the neighbors. I had the coffee, rice, and oatmeal going by 5 AM for an anticipated 6AM crowd that never materialized. We were supposed to engage in an interpretive hike on the portion of the Trail of Tears that snakes though Village Creek that morning, but only three of us got up. While I still wanted to go, I got to thinking about how busy the park was that weekend and felt bad for Meg Wallace, the interpreter, so we cancelled to give her some reprieve. Cancelling was a bit disconcerting for me because it cut into a more contemporary part of the heritage that I wanted to use to help center students by showing them that many walked the land before them.

Lunch on Saturday was a Choctaw recipe. The Choctaw were one of the groups who passed through the area in 1833 when the route took them from Memphis to Little Rock. This was one of the first of the five southeastern tribes who were not only forcebly removed from their land, but placed on a march to a new territory in Oklahoma as part of President Jackson's Indian Removal Act. I was hoping to talk about how the succession of treaties that led up to the Treaty of Dancing Rabitt Creek that forced the Choctaw to cross the Mississippi River in 1833 and make their way west along the Memphis Little Rock Military Road, passing through Parkin along the way. I had hoped there would be a discussion about how different nations were given land by the government that was often soverign to other tribes. Despite that, they were pushed repeatedly into those locations anyway. I wanted students to entertain that thought and then add how many times the relocated tribes had long histories of conflict with the nations they were forced to encroach upon. Losing this very important discussion as part of the experience saddened me a great deal.

We made our way to Parkin at 10AM and spent the morning processing and tempering the clay to get it ready for use. Some participants made their own temper by crushing the muscle shells they collected. Bob Scott roasted a bunch of these shells to calcine the calcium carbonate and burn away the impurities that may be volatile. Though Bob did mention that calcination was not entirely necessary, he has seen the temper work just as well with and without calcining process. For more information on the calcination process, visit Digital Fire

The afternoon was spent making work which was set beside our campfires to candle before the big fire on Sunday. The evening meal was Quapaw Stew which was prepared over the campfire in a collective effort. There was also a salad, and for desert we had our epic Poptart S'mores. Something that has been a family tradition in my house since 1998 when my son Chris was trying to show a friend from Montreal something new and different on our camping trip. After a long night around the campfire, we headed to bed knowing that Sunday morning would come early and be a whirlwind of activity before we headed back to Parkin to fire the work.

Lunch: Tamfula

Steamed Cornmeal (we used grits to avoid a gluten issue)


pecans, green onions, cilantro, peppers, tomatoes, beans (we used the leftover 3 sisters soup) and pazole (see earlier post for recipe)

recipe can be found at :

American Indian Health and Diet Project, "Tamfula", AIHDP, accessed October 1, 2023

Dinner: Quapaw Stew

Potatoes (cut into cubes)

chicken thighs (cut into bite sized pieces)

corn (whatever is available)

salt, pepper

Sear chicken in a dutch oven, add in the potatoes and corn and salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes are soft. We also had a few peppers we threw in so they would be used.

Recipe can be found at : Ann M. Early, Ph.D., "Native American Food", Arkansas Archeological Survey, accessed October 17, 2023

Wake time 4:30 Rest time 10:30


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