Published on August 27, 2014 by Amy
The state of Arkansas is home to a number of Native American tribes, many of which have acted as namesakes for cities, towns, and places. While native tribes still have a large presence in the state, their ancestors were the original inhabitants, and for centuries had the land to themselves. These ancient peoples left behind tools that have been recovered at sites across the state. Tools are some of many important artifacts anthropologists use to recreate old native cultures and ways of life.
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At various points in history, Arkansas was populated by a number of different Native American tribes, including the Caddo, the Tunica, the Quapaw, the Chickasaw and the Osage. These tribes were scattered throughout Arkansas. The name “Arkansas” is believed to mean “southern place” in the Quapaw language, most likely in reference to one of the tribe’s settlements. Many of these tribes used similar tools. but usually marked them differently, or used independent, identifiable techniques in tool-making. Anthropologists usually strive to not only identify American Indian tools found in Arkansas, but also trace their roots to a specific tribe.
Arrowheads were once one of the major hunting tools of Arkansas American Indian tribes. Variations in arrowheads show the different styles of fabrication and variety of materials used. The array of styles vary from smooth, narrow points to chunky, hooked pieces that show the array of styles used to bring down different animals that made up the diet staples of these tribes.
Native American pottery served a number of uses in Arkansas tribal communities. Often effigies of honored tribal members were memorialized in pottery materials. Vessels were also used to hold water, store grain and prepare cereal products for meals. Kitchen pottery was often decorated with symbols designating tribal affiliation or regional association.
Arkansas American Indians hunted a variety of local animals for food, which necessitated the implementation of tools for removing hides, scarping meat off bones and removing marrow. Many shaped stones have been uncovered in Arkansas that are believed to have been used as hand-held scraping tools.
As Arkansas Native American populations grew larger, they formed permanent settlements that relied not only upon game populations to feed their people, but also on the cereal plants that grew wild in the area. These plants spawned the use of grinding stones to crush the grain to be used in bread and cereal-making. Many of these grinding artifacts have been found in tribal areas throughout the state. Grinding discoids have also been recovered. They are believed to have been used for shaping axes, hammer heads and other tools.