Parkin Archeological State Park constantly evolving with new information, artifacts
P arkin Archeological State Park, located in Cross County in east Arkansas, is one of the best links to past human existence in the area.
The information it offers is obtained both from the archeology work being done on the site, as well as reviewing records made by Hernando DeSoto when he came to the area and met the Native American tribe in their Village along the banks of the St. Francis River.
The leader of the tribe was named Casqui, and his name was later adopted for the entire tribe by DeSoto and his band of explorers. It was one of the few peaceful encounters DeSoto made with the area peoples, known collectively as Mississippians.
The Village existed from 1000 to 1550 A.D., and before it was made into a park in the 1980s, its dominant feature was the chief’s mound.
Jeffrey Mitcham has been the on-site archeologist for nearly 25 years, documenting every artifact discovered and re-creating the village with a huge display in the visitor’s center. The park has been labeled one of the most significant in Arkansas because of its link to the past, with new discoveries being made every day.
Much of the park was lost in the early 1900s when a saw- mill, school house and Parkin’s original cemetery were placed on the site. All of that history is proficiently noted in the visitor center. The cemetery is preserved, as well as a one-room school house on the grounds.
Visitors can take a leisurely self-guided tour free of charge or have a guide give an archeological tour for a nominal fee. The entire park is on a 17-acre site with interpretive signs at key points. One of the signs recreates an incident involving DeSoto’s men and the Casqui. A long drought had affected the tribe’s corn crop, and a ceremony was held on the chief’s mound overlooking the St. Francis River where a cross was erected.
DeSoto’s records show that the rains came shortly after the ceremony. Portions of the old cross that were buried in the ground were excavated by Mitcham and his staff and are on display in the museum.
Parkin Archeological State Park is on the northern edge of Parkin at the junction of Highway 64 and Highway 184 north. It is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from 1-5 p.m. Sunday.
Step into the past and see how the Casqui Indians lived more than 500 years ago, thanks to diligent archeological work and DeSoto’s records of his visit to the village.
Several artifacts, including these three examples of pottery, have been excavated from the site and are now preserved in the museum portion of the visitor center. The chief’s mound, the tallest point in Parkin Archeological State Park, was the site of a historic ceremony when DeSoto’s men raised a cross overlooking the St. Francis River in an attempt to bring rainfall. DeSoto’s records showed the act was successful.