Sometimes the tall tales of local lore turn into fact, rather than fiction as the years roll by and only archeology can verify or deny the stories, according to a 7 p.m. presentation Jan.17 at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith by Mary Z. Brennan and Lexie Rue-Harris.
The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will be held in room 211 of the Math-Science Building.
Brennan and Rue-Harris will tackle this topic in “History or Hearsay? The Archeology of Folklore, Memory, and Identity in the Mulberry River Valley, Franklin and Johnson Counties, Arkansas.”
According to Brennan and Rue-Harris, the Mulberry River Valley is an area of unique geological and natural beauty. They say that their research indicates the area’s modern popularity as a destination today, for its canoeing, camping, hiking and other recreational opportunities, is nothing new. It was also well-utilized by prehistoric and historic populations, as evidenced by the many archeological sites in the river corridor.
The Mulberry River Valley, like other areas of the mountainous Ozarks landscape, is associated with stories of De Soto and Indian gold, bushwhackers, Civil War skirmishes, bandits and family feuds.
Their paper examines the archeology of folklore, memory and identity that is part of the Mulberry River Valley culture today. It also explains how the past has been reconstructed and is being interpreted today.
Rue-Harris said that she has lived most of her life in and around the Ozark area and is a descendant of some of the first families to homestead in the Mulberry River Valley area. She said the history of the Mulberry River Valley has a special place in her heart. Rue-Harris is an archeologist at the Cold-Springs/Poteau Ranger District of the Ouachita National Forest in Booneville. She received her master’s degree from Arkansas Tech University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas.
Brennan is an archeologist for the Pleasant Hill, Boston Mountain and Mt. Magazine Ranger Districts of the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests. She has a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Arkansas. Her research interests include the archeology of the Ozarks and upland South, constructions of kinship, community, identity and memory, and public interpretation of place and memory.
The talk is for a meeting of the Ark-Homa Chapter of the Arkansas Archeological Society and the Oklahoma Anthropological Society. It is hosted by the research station located at UAFS, with Tim Mulvihill as research station archeologist.
For more information, contact Mulvihill by telephone at 479-788-7812 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.