The Parkin Site, located on the St. Francis River, is a 17-acre Native American village which was occupied from A.D. 1300 to 1550. This fascinating archeological site is very important for understanding the history and prehistory of northeast Arkansas. Many scholars believe it is the Native American village of Casqui, visited by the expedition of Hernando de Soto in the summer of 1541. The four written accounts of this expedition are valuable sources of information about the Native American groups living in the southeastern United States when the first Europeans arrived.
Years after the DeSoto expedition visited this area, a sawmill was established at the Parkin site by the Northern Ohio Cooperage and Lumber Company in the early 1900s. Some of the mill workers built houses and lived next to the factory. Sawdust from the mill was dumped into the moat around the Native American village site. The area became known as Sawdust Hill. The sawmill operated at the site until the Great Depression.
This photograph, provided by the University of Arkansas Museum, shows the mound at Parkin in 1934.
In 1967, the Parkin Archeological State Park was established with funding from the state legislature and help from the Archeological Conservancy. In addition, the Parkin site was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. National Park Service, one of only five such sites in Arkansas. It is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. An Arkansas Archeological Survey Research Station has been established at Parkin, providing for long-term excavations and research at the site. This provides visitors with a unique opportunity to observe archeology in progress.
Head effigy vessel from Parkin, courtesy Parkin Archeological State Park.
There were once many archeological sites similar to Parkin throughout this region, but careless digging and modern agricultural practices have destroyed almost all of these. The Parkin site is unique because it has been protected from destruction. Although there has been some careless digging by looters in the past, Parkin is the best-preserved village site of this time period in the region.
For further information about the Parkin site, click here for a list of references.