Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Paths of Our Children: Historic Indians of Arkansas

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Paths of Our Children: Historic Indians of Arkansas

Article excerpt

Paths of Our Children: Historic Indians of Arkansas, rev. ed. By George Sabo III. (Fayetteville: Arkansas Archeological Survey, 2001. Pp. VI, 132. Preface, maps, illustrations, epilogue, bibliography, index. $6.00, paper.)

The new edition of Paths of Our Children: Historic Indians of Arkansas is a wonderful book and pleasant surprise. Its size and appearance might suggest that it is one of those silly tourist books that one finds in gift shops across the country. The painting of Sequoyah on the cover only increased my suspicion that it would be a simple narrative of the Indians of Arkansas, devoid of real or recent scholarship. Upon opening the book and discovering that the author was George Sabo III, I realized that I needed to rethink my first impression, for Sabo is an excellent scholar.

Sabo has done an excellent job with this book. It is a concise and skillfully written history of the Native Americans of Arkansas. The chapters on the early Caddos, Tunicas, Quapaws, and Osages are marvelous syntheses of archeology, ethnology, and history. His chapters on the proto-historic period are particularly well written and informed by recent scholarship. His account of the problems with early De Soto narratives is outstanding.

When Sabo enters the nineteenth century, he, by necessity, omits many portions of these peoples' histories, and the clarity of his earlier narrative becomes somewhat jumbled. In fairness, the nineteenth century is a complex time of rapid changes with a new cast of participants and is more difficult to describe succinctly than the earlier period. Sabo traces the history of Arkansas Indians as a flood of southeastern Indians forces them from the territory. He continues as all Indians are forced out of Arkansas by the mid-nineteenth century and provides a solid account of their journeys into Oklahoma and their twentieth-century experience. Sabo, however, fails to mention the casinos of the Cherokees and the Tunicas, which is curious, for Indian gaming is an important element in their history and deserves some attention.

The text is complemented with a variety of colored maps. The early maps are clear, distinct, and closely match the text. The maps detailing nineteenth-century activities, with the exception of the Caddo map, however, are not as well matched with the text. This is especially true when it comes to the Quapaws and the Osages. Sabo does a fine job of tracing Quapaw factionalism and relocation, but the maps do not note the locations mentioned. …

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