Markham Hill Moment of History                                                       2019-07-08

Native American Sites on Markham Hill

Community Radio show
aired on KPSQ 97.3 FM:

Letter (2018-09-10) from Dr. Jamie C. Brandon about Native American sites on Markham Hill.

Ms. Orton:

I have no doubt that Native American sites, as well as artifacts dating to the early historical occupation, are on Markham Hill. 

We already have two archeological sites recorded in the Arkansas State Site Files on Markham Hill—one is the bluff shelter that you spoke of and the other is a lithic scatter covering a large area on the flat on top of the hill.  So I’d be happy to confirm that there are at least two sites, and likely several others—on this landform.  Also, do not forget about the historical resources on the hill.  Archeologists would also be interested in the 1900 farmstead/Inn and the 1920s camp.  As you pointed out these features are already on the NRHP.

Indian bluff shelter, known locally as “mossy rock cave.” - click to enlarge

The problem is Arkansas Archeological Survey does not “request” an archeological survey of a property under development.  The system that triggers the need to conduct archeological surveys is the involvement of federal monies or permitting. If federal monies or permitting are involved in a project, and the State Historic Preservation Officer concurs that this development may impact historic properties, THEN an archeological Survey is required.  Even then, these finds rarely stop development.  In most cases it is simply cheaper to excavate the archeological sites that have been found eligible for the NRHP in the survey area than preserving them in place.  That would only buy you a year or so in time, not stop development. Very rarely—such as in the case of a large mounds center or burying ground—will a developer change their plans.  Even in these cases it usually only to avoid/save the portions of the property deemed eligible for the Register…not the whole parcel.

However, the Arkansas Archeological Survey DOES do research and document historic and prehistoric sites.  However, we can only do so with landowner approval—which seems unlikely at this point. 

I am sympathetic to your cause and quite frankly I believe that your best recourse is to the public.  You might want to contact Preserve Arkansas--the only statewide nonprofit organization focused on preserving Arkansas’s architectural and cultural resources.  They have helped endangered sites in the past and may be able to give you some assistance.

Also, feel free to call me (479-575-6554) to talk further about Markham Hill and its archeological resources if you’d like.



Dr. Jamie C. Brandon
Arkansas Archeological Survey
Research Station Archeologist &
Associate Research Professor
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville