Time Period: European Exploration and Settlement (1541 - 1802) - Starting with C

Caddo Nation

Caddo Indians enter written history in chronicles of the Hernando de Soto expedition, which describe encounters during the Spanish passage through southwest Arkansas. When the Spaniards crossed the threshold to Caddo country on June 20, 1542, they entered a nation uniquely distinguished by language, social structure, tradition, and way of life. Caddo people were sedentary farmers, salt makers, hunters, traders, craftsmen, and creators of exquisite pottery who buried their dead in mounds and cemeteries with solemn ritual and a belief that the dead traveled to a world beyond this. Caddo language was unlike any spoken by other groups the Spaniards met as they explored northeast Arkansas and the Southern states east of the Mississippi River. Caddo communities—called villages or towns …

Casqui

Casqui was a Native American chief who ruled over a province in northeast Arkansas in the 1500s. He was the first Indian leader in Arkansas whose 1541 dealings with the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto are recorded in detail in the accounts of the expedition. Casqui was thus the earliest Arkansan about whom we have written historical information. In the Spanish writings, his name was variously recorded as Casqui, Casquin, or Icasqui. The explorers used his name to refer to him, the town in which he resided, and the area over which he ruled. Knowledge of Casqui himself is limited, but the narratives provide interesting details about his people and the territory under his control, as well as some of …

Cherokee

The Europeans named the Cherokee as one of the Five Civilized Tribes. (The other four were the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole.) At the time of European contact, the Cherokee inhabited a region consisting of what is now western North Carolina and parts of Virginia, Georgia, and eastern Tennessee. Over the next two centuries, the tribe expanded through the southern Appalachians, reaching further into Georgia as well as into South Carolina, northeastern Alabama, and across the Cumberland River into Kentucky and West Virginia; some of this expansion occurred following the displacement of other tribes. By the 1780s, Cherokee migration into Arkansas had begun, largely in response to pressure to move away from Euro-American settlements in the East following the Revolutionary …

Chickasaw

Heading east, the ancestral Chickasaw crossed Arkansas looking for a new homeland at some point in prehistory. Heading west beginning in 1836, the Chickasaw crossed Arkansas again as the tribe was removed to its new home in Indian Territory. Between these two events, the Chickasaw interacted periodically with tribes living in Arkansas, most notably the Quapaw, whom they warred against during much of the eighteenth century. In all versions of the Chickasaw migration story, the people came from the west, usually from central Mexico. They were led by twin brothers Chatah and Chikasa, who followed a divinely inspired fabusa, or leaning pole. In these versions, the people necessarily must have passed through the land that became Arkansas to get to …

Choctaw

The Choctaw are of the Western Muskogean language stock, which is also the same stock as the Chickasaw. When first encountered by Europeans, the Choctaw were located in three geographic divisions in the area that is now Mississippi and western Alabama. The three divisions each had some distinguishing cultural practices, which may indicate they had separate origins and that the Choctaw came together as a single people only in more recent times. There are two widespread traditions within the Choctaw about their origins. One is that they came from the far west and were led eastward by a sacred pole that was placed in the ground each night; one morning, the pole did not lean but stayed straight upright near …

Colbert Raid

On April 17, 1783, British-sympathizing Native Americans and British nationals carried out an attack upon the Spanish garrison based at Arkansas Post on the Arkansas River. This attack was considered the only battle of the American Revolution to be fought in what is now Arkansas. In 1762, Spain took control of French Louisiana west of the Mississippi after King Louis XV ceded the area in anticipation of losing the ongoing French and Indian War. It was 1766 before Spanish troops arrived to take over Arkansas Post from the French garrison. The Spanish struggled to maintain order at the post, which was still mainly populated by French trappers, and to protect it from the English who were just across the Mississippi …