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Trail of Tears effort underway to preserve and mark path in Arkansas

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The Trail of Tears has footsteps across Benton and Washington counties, and one group wants to ensure those steps are not forgotten.

“We are working with the U.S. National Park Service to specifically mark the Trail of Tears route through the two counties,” said John McLarty, project manager for the Trail of Tears Association’s Arkansas Chapter.

The signs are designed by the Park Service and purchased through the Park Service’s National Historic Trail Division, McLarty said.

Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin, in a statement, expressed support for the signs.

“The Cherokee Nation supports enhancing historic signage along the Trail of Tears routes in Arkansas if it brings more awareness and education about our forced removal. We commend the National Park Service and National Trail of Tears Association, as well as the Arkansas chapter, for continuing to research the routes and places that centered on this dark chapter in our history,” Hoskin said.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the initiative is statewide, but will begin with placing markers at specific locations in Northwest Arkansas. The purpose is to remind people of the trail’s complex history, McLarty said.

The federal government forced the Cherokee to move from their homes in the Appalachians to Indian Territory, which is now Oklahoma.

“The story of the Cherokee is one of determination, perseverance and rebuilding,” McLarty said. “They would have preferred to stay in the Appalachians, but they are actually thriving in Oklahoma.”

The signs will be placed along roadways, in parks and on parts of the Razorback Greenway. McLarty hopes the first three signs will be placed in Pea Ridge National Military Park by June 20, which is when the Remember the Removal bike team will ride through the park. The team rides the Trail of Tears’ northern route in remembrance of the forced removal.

Kevin Eads, superintendent of the National Military Park, welcomes the new signs and the association’s efforts.

“They’re great partners, and we’ve really enjoyed working with them,” Eads said. “I’m excited about getting some additional signs.”

The military park has signs that indicate trail distance, Eads said.

“We’re supplementing those. There’ll be more of them and they will be at some key locations,” Eads said.

About 200 to 300 signs will be placed along the trail, and about 50 to 80 will be in Northwest Arkansas, McLarty said. It is unknown what the total project cost will be, he said.

The Park Service placed Trail of Tears signs in the 1990s, but those were for the Auto Tour route along numbered state and federal highways approximate to the actual trail. That route was done because it was more efficient to get permission to put up the signs from state highway departments, and also because research to identify a historic route was not complete, McLarty said.

“So much research has been done in the last eight to 10 years that the National Park Service has determined that they can identify and sign a more accurate route closer to the original route,” McLarty said. “Now that we know enough of the original route, it’s worth the effort to go to the meetings with cities and the counties.”

The new signs will be for a historic route, on the actual paths that the Cherokee walked, said Cory Donnelly, landscape architect for National Trails Intermountain Region, a Park Service program.

“Our initiative, our focus, has changed in recent years. We are focused on signing the historic route,” Donnelly said. “The Auto Tour route still exists, but we have found it’s more powerful to have a historic route.”

The Auto Tour signs will remain, Donnelly said.

The Park Service will place the Trail of Tears signs in all nine states the historic trail runs through, working with partners that range from city to county municipalities to private citizens, Donnelly said.

Arkansas will be one of the first states to install the historic route signs, which will be placed on county roads, city streets and highways, McLarty said.

“Our project will take longer to get all the permissions,” he said. “Every city it goes through, we’ll need permission from that city. It’s a lot of leg work. It’s a two- to three-year project.”

Some of the roads that made up the trail include Old Missouri Road in Springdale and Fayetteville and Old Wire Road in Fayetteville and Rogers, McLarty said.

While the Park Service will pay for some of the signs, the association will raise the rest of the money from historical societies, chambers of commerce and various other sources, McLarty said.

The Trail of Tears cross the Razorback Greenway in four different places, which includes one in Bentonville, one in Springdale, one in Johnson and one in south Fayetteville. All four locations will receive a sign, McLarty said.

The Historic Route is a work in progress, Donnelly said.

“Before the trail was even designated we’ve had partners working on this for many many decades, and the research continues to happen,” she said. “We have a designated alignment that was based on research.”

Research is crucial, Donnelly said.

“We go to local partners and find out what research was done and see if more research needs to be done before we mark the route,” she said. “We try not to mark the Historic Route unless it is backed by solid research, which includes historic maps, historic journals.”

McLarty said receipts from purchases made by the Cherokee along the trail have helped identify locations.

The 16,000 Native Americans who traveled the Trail of Tears in 1838 and 1839 were broken into 17 detachments. Four detachments went by river and 13 traveled to Oklahoma from various directions through Benton and Washington counties, McLarty said.

All 13 detachments came into the state from Missouri, entering the Pea Ridge Military Park area, McLarty said.

The Cherokee originally lived in the southern Appalachian Mountains stretched across North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.

“The reason they were removed was because in the 1830s, President Andrew Jackson and the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Removal Act to have the tribes of the southern Appalachians moved by force if necessary,” McLarty said. “The white European settlers wanted the land and the resources. It was all enhanced by the discovery of gold in northern Georgia in 1828.”

The Cherokee were industrious, McLarty said. They lived in thatched huts, which McLarty described as wooden structures thatched with grass, and log cabins. He said they owned cattle, hogs, ferries and ran supply stores, and by the 1830s had been doing business with European settlers for 150 years. However, the European settlers were increasing in number and wanted land to build plantations.

Jackson had campaigned for Indian removal and signed the removal act on May 28, 1830, following what McLarty described as intense Congressional debate. The act authorized Jackson to grant unsettled lands west of the Mississippi for Indian lands within existing state borders, according to the Library of Congress website.

“About half the county was outraged by this. They didn’t want it,” McLarty said.

Intellectuals of the time such as Ralph Waldo Emerson decried the removal.

“It was politically controversial to remove all those tribes,” McLarty said. “The bottom line was land and resources. The increasing European settlers wanted the land, wanted the plantation and wanted the gold. But it was not without extreme protest, not only from the Indians, but a large portion of the white European population was against removal.”

There were Cherokee who saw the writing on the wall and left the Appalachians for Oklahoma, but the 16,000 who refused were removed by federal troops and the Georgia militia.

“The roundup started on the front porch of every Cherokee cabin. They were brought to these detention camps in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee and held in these camps, and then they were to be escorted to Indian territory,” McLarty said.

The first four detachments that went by boat had a difficult journey on the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers during a fiercely hot summer.

“The water was low. They couldn’t make it all the way to the Indian Territory. They were hitting ground,” McLarty said.

The remaining 13 detachments learned of these difficulties and pleaded and petitioned to travel by land. The Cherokee traveled by foot and on wagon through harsh winter conditions, and 4,000 died from sickness, starvation and winter conditions.

The Cherokee did not let themselves be defined by death and despair, instead thriving in the land that would become Oklahoma, McLarty said.

“Because they are so industrious and hardworking, they immediately started doing OK,” McLarty said. “The first years were rough, but within a decade they were raising crops and hogs and trading with Fort Smith and Fayetteville.”

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.

Colorado

Western wild fires continue to rage as authorities worry over July 4 fireworks

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A growing wildfire destroyed more than 100 homes in the Colorado mountains, while other blazes across the parched U.S. West kept hundreds of other homes under evacuation orders and derailed holiday plans.

Authorities announced late Monday that a fire near Fort Garland, about 205 miles (330 kilometers) southwest of Denver, had destroyed 104 homes in a mountain housing development started by multimillionaire publisher Malcolm Forbes in the 1970s. The damage toll could rise because the burn area is still being surveyed.

Tamara Estes’ family cabin, which her parents had built in 1963 using wood and rocks from the land, was among the homes destroyed.

“I think it’s sinking in more now. But we’re just crying,” she said. “My grandmother’s antique dining table and her hutch are gone.”

“It was a sacred place to us,” she added.

Andy and Robyn Kuehler watched flames approach their cabin via surveillance video from their primary residence in Nebraska.

“We just got confirmation last night that the house was completely gone. It’s … a very sickening feeling watching the fire coming towards the house,” the couple wrote in an email Tuesday.

The blaze, labeled the Spring Fire, is one of six large wildfires burning in Colorado and is the largest at 123 square miles (318 square kilometers) — about five times the size of Manhattan. While investigators believe it was started by a spark from a fire pit, other fires, like one that began burning in wilderness near Fairplay, were started by lightning.

Nearly 60 large, active blazes are burning across the West, including nine in New Mexico and six each in Utah and California, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

In Utah, authorities have evacuated 200 to 300 homes because of a growing wildfire near a popular fishing reservoir southeast of Salt Lake City amid hot temperatures and high winds. Several structures have been lost since the fire started Sunday, but it’s unclear how many, said Jason Curry of the Utah Division of Forest, Fire and State Lands.

Darren Lewis and his extended family planned to spend the Fourth of July at a cabin built nearly 50 years ago by his father and uncle in a wilderness area nestled between canyons and near a mountain river.

Instead, Lewis and his family will spend the holiday nervously waiting to hear if a half-century of family memories go up in smoke because of the fire, which has grown to 47 square miles (122 square kilometers).

“There’s a lot of history and memories that go into this cabin,” said Lewis, 44, of Magna, Utah. “The cabin we could rebuild, but the trees that we love would be gone. We’re just hoping that the wind blows the other way.”

Meanwhile, a wind-fueled wildfire in Northern California that continues to send a thick layer of smoke and ash south of San Francisco was threatening more than 900 buildings.

The massive blaze was choking skies with ash and smoke, prompting some officials to cancel Fourth of July fireworks shows and urge people to stay indoors to protect themselves from the unhealthy air.

At least 2,500 people have been told to evacuate as the so-called County Fire continues to spread, said Anthony Brown, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Brown said the blaze, which started Saturday and is surging through rugged terrain northwest of Sacramento, has grown to 113 square miles (294 square kilometers) amid hot and dry weather expected throughout the day. It was 15 percent contained Tuesday.

“The weather is better than what we had over the weekend. But it’s still hampering our efforts and it’s an area of concern,” he said.

So far this year, wildfires have burned 4,200 square miles in the United States, according to the fire center. That’s a bit below last year’s acreage to date — which included the beginning of California’s devastating fire season — but above the 10-year average of 3,600 square miles.

Because of the Independence Day holiday, authorities are also concerned about the possibility of campfires or fireworks starting new fires because of the dry, hot conditions. In Colorado, many communities have canceled firework displays, and a number of federal public lands and counties have some degree of fire restrictions in place, banning things like campfires or smoking outdoors.

In Arizona, large swaths of national forests and state trust land have been closed since before Memorial Day. Some cities have canceled fireworks displays because of extreme fire danger.

In New Mexico, all or part of three national forests remain closed because of the threat of wildfire, putting a damper on holiday camping plans. The forests that are open have strict rules, especially when it comes to fireworks.

“We’re just urging people to use extreme caution,” said Wendy Mason, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico State Forestry Division. “We want people to have fun and enjoy themselves, but we prefer they leave the fireworks shows to the professionals.”

____

Associated Press writers Brady McCombs in Salt Lake City; Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Olga R. Rodriguez in San Francisco; Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona; and Alina Hartounian in Phoenix contributed to this report.

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
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News

More firefighters called in to rein in Southern Colorado fire

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Crews struggled to rein in a wildfire that was spreading in several different directions Sunday in southern Colorado.
More firefighters were arriving to battle the blaze that has prompted the evacuation of more than 2,000 homes.
“It’s a very challenging fire, I’ll be honest with you, with all the wind changes,” Shane Greer, an incident commander with the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team, told residents Sunday.
Authorities said the fire east of Fort Garland was estimated at 64 square miles (166 sq. kilometers) after unpredictable winds pushed the fire both north and south over the weekend.
About 500 firefighters have worked to contain the flames since the fire began Wednesday. A second team arrived in the area Sunday and plans to take over fighting the fire north of Highway 160.
The first team will focus on the area south of the highway.
“Usually with a fire we can chase it … we haven’t been able to chase this because it keeps going in at least three different directions,” Greer said.
Authorities said they began assessing some areas this weekend to track destroyed or damaged structures. But they cautioned that conditions remain dangerous and said they want to be sure that information is correct before notifying property owners.
The fire was expected to remain active and grow in intensity with a warm and dry forecast on Sunday.
Highway 160 remains closed and officials said they could not estimate when it will reopen or when the evacuation orders will end.
The Costilla County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday said a man was being held on suspicion of arson in connection with the fire. It is not clear if Jesper Joergensen, 52, has an attorney.
At Sunday’s public update, officials said they do not believe Joergensen started the fire intentionally.
State emergency management officials reported nine other fires remained active around the state on Sunday. Officials near Durango hoped that a cold front would slow down one of those. The fire began a month ago and is estimated at 77 square miles.
The Durango Herald reported that authorities planned to relocate some crews and equipment to help firefighters guarding communities as the flames moved north.

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
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News

Today we launch the PULP Journalism Project to Support the Capital Gazette and more

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From the Publisher of Colorado’s PULP Newsmagazine to the people who make The Capital Gazette possible.

In this space, we at the PULP had plans to launch Rocket PULP, our PULP Journalism Project. We had planned a huge roll-out of PULP Universe memberships, collaborations with national writers, universities, and local creatives. Most importantly, I wanted to talk about how we rebuild Colorado storytelling for the 21st century.

But with what happened yesterday in Annapolis, Maryland – where journalists at The Capital Gazette were attacked and five people were killed – it’s more appropriate to show you what I believe in as a local publisher to help rebuild another newsroom.

I want the PULP to stand for something more than corporate profits off of local people.
We have been fighting and scratching for Southern Colorado for years now, trying to tell the local story of us as a people. At our core, beyond breaking news and telling stories in this hard region to live, PULP is about the spirit of Southern Colorado through collaboration. I believe if we all win – we all win. In fact, this spirit of “We Are…” has been our guiding principle since 2010.

So instead of asking you to join the PULP Universe in July to fuel Colorado journalism, I’m asking you to join the PULP Universe to help the families in Annapolis. For any new PULP Membership for the entire month of July, we will give half — 50 percent — to The Capital Gazette family.

Why do this? Speaking to you as an owner and publisher, well before the shooting in Maryland, I’d often look out our massive storefront windows and think, “My god, what if we are attacked? How in the world would I take care of my people?” This shooting has affected me personally and this is what I can do to help others.

We may be the new kids on the news block in Colorado, but that doesn’t mean we should act small. In Southern Colorado, you’re taught that we may not have much here, but we are all family – so give if you can, but more importantly, always look to help when you must. Supporting the Capital Gazette is something the PULP Journalism Project must do.

Please give what you can, even if it’s just $1. Let’s show a fellow newsroom that the PULP Universe in Colorado stands for supporting the storytellers across every universe.

To learn more about the PULP Journalism Project follow rocketpulp.com for updates. Our news site can be found at pueblopulp.com, but today go to capitalgazette.com instead.

We Are Friends and Family,
John Rodriguez and the PULP Team
Owner / Publisher of PULP

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
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