Drennen-Scott House

222 North Third Street, Van Buren

John Drennen, one of the founders of the town of Van Buren, built this house overlooking the Arkansas River in 1838, and it has been converted to a history museum under the leadership of the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. Important to those interested in Native American history is Drennen's role as an Indian agent on the frontier, including his oversight of the eligibility process for settlement payments for the Cherokees who had been relocated to the Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma.


Museum of Native American History

202 Southwest O Street, Bentonville

Take a 14,000-year journey through Arkansas's and America's past. Exhibits follow chronological order, starting with the first peoples through the 20th century. Artifacts, tools, beautiful crafts and art abound: arrowheads, pottery, clothing and blankets give a rich history of Native American life over the centuries. The Sweetwater Biface is a particularly famous work of Caddoan stonework. Audio wands are available for self-guided tours.


Ridge house

230 West Center Street, Fayetteville

This house contains the log walls of the original structure from the 1830s. In 1840, it was sold to Sarah Ridge, the widow of John Ridge, a leader of the Cherokees who was instrumental in promoting and signing the Treaty of New Echota in 1835, which it was hoped would encourage Cherokees to accept a voluntary move to Indian Territory. Most Cherokees rejected the treaty, and the government began forced removal, leading to the Trail of Tears. John Ridge was murdered in 1839, and his wife moved to Fayetteville, where she lived until her death in 1856. Now owned by the Washington County Historical Society, the house is open by appointment.


university of arkansas museum collections

2475 North Hatch Avenue, Fayetteville

The University of Arkansas Museum Collection houses more than 7,000 catalogued Native American whole pottery vessels - the largest single collection of late prehistoric and protohistoric period whole pottery vessels from Arkansas. In addition to the whole pottery vessels, the collections include hundreds of thousands of artifacts that come from all parts of Arkansas, and that range in age from the oldest Native-made tools more than 10,000 years in age to historic period objects. The collection resides in the headquarters of the Arkansas Archeological Survey on the campus of the University of Arkansas. The Survey also coordinates excavations and research at state parks like Toltec and Parkin, and through the state of Arkansas. The secure curation area, where most artifacts are held, is visible through the foyer of the survey headquarters. Access to the collections for research and other purposes can be arranged through the offices. 


trail of tears park

1100 West Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard (at the northwest corner of Stadium Drive)

This site on the campus of the University of Arkansas commemorates a spot on the Trail of Tears where a group of 1,100 Cherokees led by John Benge passed through the frontier village of Fayetteville on January 18, 1839. A plaque and a native stone sculpture stand near the site of the party's encampment.


lake dardanelle state park

100 State Park Drive, Russellville

Lake Dardanelle State Park is located along the water route of the Trail of Tears and is one of only two sites along the trail where members of all southeastern tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Creek, Choctaw and Seminole) passed in their forced journey west to Indian Territory. Long before tribes moved through this area along the Trail of Tears, this area was Cherokee land beginning in the late 1700s. The Cherokees built towns and farms in this fertile river valley.


pea ridge national military park

15930 East Highway 62, Garfield

The site of a battle on the western frontier of the Civil War, the park offers visitors a wealth of information about the Native American participation on this front of the war, including the story of Stand Watie, a Cherokee supporter of the 1835 Treaty of Echota who became a general in the Confederate army and commanded the 2nd Cherokee Mounted Rifles during the battle. In June 1865, Watie was the last Southern general to surrender to the Federals. Also in the park is Elkhorn Tavern, a stop along the Trail of Tears; the Cherokees camped nearby, and soldiers escorting them likely stayed in the tavern. A historical marker explains the significance of the site for those who suffered on the trail. “This is an amazing place,” said John McLarty, president of the Arkansas chapter of the Trail of Tears Association. “When you stand at the Elkhorn Tavern, you are literally on the Trail of Tears.”


Fort Smith National Historic Site

301 Parker Avenue, Fort Smith

This site devoted to a raucous frontier history – the original fort was founded to keep peace between warring tribes, and a later one became the province of Isaac Parker, the “Hanging Judge” – includes a walk to the Trail of Tears Overlook, where interpretive panels tell the story of the five tribes who were removed to Indian Territory. That viewpoint looks out on the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau rivers, and a path marker indicates the border between Arkansas and Indian Territory.


Cob Cave

Buffalo National River, 402 N. Walnut, Suite 136, Harrison

Located on the Lost Valley Trail (2.3 miles round trip), one of the Buffalo National River's most popular trails, Cob Cave is a bluff shelter believed to have been inhabited seasonally by Native Americans between AD 1100 and 1400. When the cave was explored officially in the 1930s, archeologists from the University of Arkansas found pictographs and petroglyphs, woven bags and cultivated plants. The trailhead can be found about a half a mile off Arkansas Route 43, 1.5 miles south of Ponca.