Moat at the Parkin Site
A foot bridge crosses the
moat dug at Parkin by Native
Americans more than 500
years ago. - Parkin Archaeological State Park, Arkansas - Parkin Archaeological State Park, Arkansas
Parkin Archaeological State Park
The mound at Parkin is thought by some to have
been the spot where the Hernando de Soto
expedition raised a cross in 1541.
Hernando decSoto's Cross?
Archaeologists uncovered
these sections of a squared
cypress timber at Parkin.
Could they be from the cross
erected by the Spanish?
The Large Mound at Parkin
Time and the elements have
weathered the primary mound
at Parkin. It was a center for
life in the fortified village.
Fortified Mississippian Town
The village at Parkin was
surrounded by a strong
fortification. The trace of the
moat remains quite visible
Parkin Archaeological State Park - Parkin, Arkansas
Site of the Chiefdom of Casqui?
One of the most interesting archaeological
sites in the South may also hold a unique
place in American history.

Parkin Archaeological State Park is located
just 30 miles from West Memphis in the level
farm country of eastern Arkansas. The site is
on the northern outskirts of the small town of

Parkin is a fascinating Native American
village and mound site that dates from the
Mississippian era (A.D. 900 - 1540). The last
of the prehistoric cultures to occupy the
Mississippi Valley before the arrival of
European explorers, the Mississippians lived
in chiefdoms centered around important
towns like the one that once stood at Parkin.

Like many other Mississippian towns, Parkin
was surrounded by an impressive
fortification. Archaeologists have located the
remains of a stout stockade that was
enclosed by a deep and wide moat, traces of
which can still be seen. A focal point of the
village was a large earthen mound, which
served as a platform for the home of the chief.

If some researchers are right, the Parkin site
was the capital of the chiefdom of Casqui
and was visited by the Spanish soldiers of
the Hernando de Soto expedition in June of

According to the surviving chronicles of the
expedition, the Spanish were welcomed by
the chief of Casqui. This was unique as they
had been already faced stiff resistance from
the Indians of other towns as they fought their
way through Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas,
Alabama and Mississippi.  

After meeting with the chief in the principal
house of the village, the Spanish erected a
large cross atop a mound. Archaeologists
have found the remains of a squared cypress
timber at Parkin, prompting speculation that it
might be the cross mentioned in the De Soto
accounts. Other artifacts of Spanish origin
have also been found at the site and are on
display, along with the ancient cypress
timber, in the park museum.

The Spanish descriptions of Casqui mention
that the primary house of the village was
decorated with bull heads (undoubtedly
taken from buffalo). Buffalo then roamed in
much of Arkansas and were key sources of
food and hide for early Native American
families. They also hunted deer and a variety
of other wild animals.
The Parkin site was abandoned in the
decades following the De Soto expedition
and over time was reclaimed by the forest.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries
it became the location of an important
sawmill town, the cemetery and a one-room
school from which can be seen at the park

Parkin Archaeological State Park is a nicely
designed facility that features a primary
museum and visitor center that displays
artifacts and provides a wealth of information
on the archaeology and history of the site.
From there, visitors follow a paved walking
path to a foot bridge leading over the trace of
the original Native American moat. The paved
trail then leads on past key parts of the
village, including the primary mound, and
also provides information on the later history
of the site.

Please click here to visit the park's official
website for directions and more information.

The price to enter is $3 for adults and $2 for
children. A family rate of $10 is available for
larger families. There are no campsites at
the park, but it does offer a picnic area,
playground and boat launch for fishing on the
St. Francis River.
Please click here to view a
park brochure.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.