Buffalo National River
Human occupation in the Buffalo River Valley began over 10,000 years ago.
The oldest inhabitants are called Paleo-Indians. They used bone, antler, stone and leather for their tools. Their subsistence was dependent upon hunting and scavenging animals.
The Dalton Period began around 10,000 years ago and continued until approximately 9,000 years ago. The tools suggest an increasing subsistence strategy that processed wild plants for food, medicine, and ornamentation.
The Early to Middle Archaic Periods began approximately 9,500 years before present (BP) and continued until 5,000 BP. The stone tools from this period demonstrate major technological changes.
The Late Archaic and Early Woodland Periods began 5,000 BP and continued to 1,800 BP. Native Americans continued foraging wild plants and began squash and gourd gardening.
The Middle and Late Woodland Periods existed between 1,800 BP and 1,100 BP. The Mississippian Period was 1,100 BP until the first historic contact around 300 years ago.
Native tribes included the Osage and the Cherokee in the Historic Period. The Cherokee were eventually forced to relocate to the new Indian Territory in Oklahoma.
Historic permanent settlement along the Buffalo began in the late 1820s. Settlers cleared land for fields and homes, built communities, and saw the fighting of the Civil War. Mining, timbering, recreational activities, and modern businesses were a part of life here.
The people preserved their heritage in oral tradition – spoken and in song – and kept the old ways long into the twentieth century.
The setting is a pure, clear, meandering river, flowing approximately 153 miles, of which 135.7 of these miles are within the National River boundaries.
Along its course are rapids, gravel bars, and long pools. Beside the river are tree-covered banks, a valley bottom with open grassy meadows, tall multicolored bluffs, and wooded hills.
Flowing water, relatively free from pollution and impoundments, was the primary purpose of Buffalo River becoming the country’s first National River in 1972.
The Buffalo River is one of the last major rivers in the US that is still free-flowing. The total park area is 94,294 acres. The park is located in norrthwest Arkansas, United States.
(This page was updated in November 2012.)