Tuesday, September 29, 2015

TOP STORY >> Pipeline could bisect areas of Indian march

Leader staff writer

Along Hwy. 89 in the southern part of Cabot near Crossroad Café, there are signs posted that read “SENSITIVE AREA.” They give notice to where a pipeline under construction is crossing onto the Trail of Tears, the path to the West thousands of Indians were forced to march in the 1830s.

Magellan Midstream Partners is working on laying a fuel pipeline from Searcy to Little Rock.

Magellan joined with Ozark Gas Transmission to carry up to 75,000 barrels of gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel a day from Fort Smith to Searcy and then on to North Little Rock, Little Rock and Little Rock Air Force Base.

The pipeline goes through a frontage road portion of the late Cone and Betty Magie estate.

Magellan now trucks the fuel on I-40 from Fort Smith to Little Rock, including Little Rock area airports. The company says it will reduce pollution by sending the fuel through pipelines.

The “sensitive area” markers are on land owned by Shelly Moran and her family. On Saturday, Moran was met by two men in hard hats and orange vests. Moran said one man, Jim Biscoe, told her he and the archeologist were monitors. Biscoe is a Choctaw Indian contracted by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma.

He said monitors would be there to watch the pipeline work closely. If items were discovered, they would be sent to experts for examination, documentation and later returned to the landowners. It’s hoped that owners would donate the items back to the tribes.

“He said this area was a branch of the Trail of Tears. It goes across our property and as far as Military Road. He said it’s possible the high spots on our property were camping areas for the Indians. The Indians could travel only four or five miles per day and stopped often to spend the night. The higher spots made better camping grounds,” Moran said.

The monitors were to look at anything that might be found and make sure no artifacts, burial places or bones were destroyed by heavy equipment that will be digging the land for the pipeline.

Biscoe said about 30 percent of the Indians who were moved along the Trail of Tears passed away and were buried wherever they died.

“I think it is interesting that this part is the Trail of Tears. I didn’t know the Trail of Tears came through this area. Daddy said this land, a million years ago, was the bottom of the ocean. To learn this was the Trail of Tears makes it that much more interesting,” Moran said. “I had never looked for relics on the property because I never knew.”

She said she had lived in the area since 1955.

According to the National Park Service, the Cherokee people were forcefully re-moved from their homelands in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee by the U.S. government to live in Indian Territory, now Oklahoma.

The Cherokees walked or rode horses, wagons or were put on steamboats from 1838-39.

The Native Americans had two Trail of Tears routes through Lonoke County.

One route follows from Carlisle on Hwy. 70 to Lonoke, then along Hwy. 89 to Furlow, west on Hwy. 294 to Jacksonville then on Hwy. 161 to Prothro Junction.

A second route is from Carlisle on Hwy. 13 to Hwy. 236 onto Hwy. 31 to Hwy. 321. It continues to Hwy. 231 to Hwy. 38 to Old Austin.

The trail then continues on Hwy. 319 through Ward to Funston.