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Photo Left:  Jackson Military Road cut exiting Washington, Arkansas, to the North East (2005)

This web site is intended to provide information for students and classrooms that have

interest in the route and history of the Old Southwest Trail in Arkansas.




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"Early Native American and European Contact"

Excerpts from . . .

The Current and Jacks Fork Riverways
Historic Resource Study Ozark National Scenic Riverways

Donald L. Stevens, Jr.  1991

A major trade route of the Osage to St. Louis crossed the lower Current River in Ripley County. It was part of a circular route that began from the main villages of the Great and Little Osage near the Little Osage River. On their annual hunting expeditions, the Osage frequently followed a trail south to the Verdigris and Red rivers in the Oklahoma and Arkansas territories. From here, the hunting parties headed east and connected with the Vincennes-Natchitoches trail that they followed northeast, through southeastern Missouri and up to St. Louis. They hunted along the way, including in the southern Current River basin, and traded their furs for goods in the city. [7] By the early 1800s, and after the Osage gave up their Missouri and Arkansas hunting grounds, eastern tribes, the Cherokee, Delaware, and Shawnee, dominated the white traders lucrative Ozark trade network until approximately 1830. [8]

Three periods of migration mark the westward movement of the Cherokee, Delaware, and Shawnee: (1) the years of Spanish colonization after 1763; (2) the years of American ascension after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803; and (3) the years following the War of 1812 up to the Cherokee "Trail of Tears" of 1837. The Spanish solicited eastern tribes to move west of the Mississippi to buffer the white settlements from the hostile Osage and other western tribes. These Indian groups also crossed the Mississippi to profit from the growing commerce in furs and foodstuffs. They found an expanding market for their surplus animal products and food crops among the white settlements and travelers on the Mississippi River. Along with these factors pulling them west, the eastern Indian nations were being pushed by the increasing white settlements on the American side of the Mississippi. In 1765, the Kickapoo crossed the river and settled west of St. Louis; in 1784, Shawnee and Delaware had villages around the Cape Girardeau area of southeast Missouri; and in 1785 a group of Cherokee arrived on the St. Francis and White rivers after the Treaty of Hopwell. After the turn of the nineteenth century, the Spanish convinced two thousand Cherokees to move to the Arkansas Ozarks. [9] The presence of the Shawnee and Delaware had a greater significance in the history of the southeast Missouri Ozarks, including the Current River basin, than had the Cherokee. accessed 28 May 2005



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Last modified: 01/14/13