After 180 Years, Quapaw Tribe Returns to Arkansas in Land Deal

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 12:00 am  

John Berrey, chairman of the Quapaw Tribe of Indians, led a historic return to Arkansas through land ownership.

Did you know the Quapaw Tribe of Indians returned to Arkansas and bought a small piece of its former homeland?

The Quapaw purchased an 80-acre tract south of the Little Rock Port Industrial Park for $775,000.

The transaction marks the first time the tribe has owned land in Arkansas in nearly 180 years, after a series of treaties disenfranchised the Quapaw and culminated in the move to Oklahoma in 1833.

As we understand it, the purchase is motivated largely by a historical return to its tribal roots.

“One of my greatest personal interests is the history of the Quapaw Tribe in Arkansas,” tribe Chairman John Berrey said in the October issue of The Quapaw Tribal News. “This land has proven Quapaw historic significance.”

Berrey recently completed a four-year stint as a member of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a presidentially appointed post.

The newly acquired tribal property is on part of a natural levee that extends northwest from the former Thibault Plantation to the Clinton National Airport. This strip of high ground was home to a string of scattered dwellings and farms that date to 1300-1500 A.D.

“It wasn’t a big, compact village,” said Tom Green, director of the Arkansas Archeological Survey.

Graves are part of the cultural equation, too. Local denizens of the era favored burials near and even in their dwellings.

The Arkansas Archeological Survey will conduct a detailed survey of the property for the tribe to identify the historical secrets it contains.

Berrey, a University of Arkansas journalism graduate, also noted that in addition to its “tremendous cultural significance,” the property possessed “economic development potential.”

Most of the tribe’s property along the east side of Thibault Road is devoted to farming, and more than 20 acres is wooded.



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