Quapaw Indian Tribe has ties to New Madrid County - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Quapaw Indian Tribe has ties to New Madrid County

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MATTHEWS, MO (KFVS) -

Is there really a Native American burial ground in New Madrid County? And is it halting a big improvement project?

A tribe called the Quapaw has ties to the county.

While no ancient site has been discovered yet, according to state law those ties give the Quapaw the right to question progress and protect their history.

According to history books they made their way from the Ohio Valley down the Mississippi River and apparently spent a significant amount of time in New Madrid County.

"I thought I knew most of the Indian tribes but I didn't know the Quapaw," said Matthews' mayor.

Matthews Mayor Jim Burch says he decided research was in order when the tribe contacted him with notice that would halt the city's current drainage project. It turns out there's a chance ancient remains or artifacts could be disturbed.

"So I went to the Internet and read about them and hey they could've been here," said Burch.

According to federal regulations, tribes with ties to certain areas can make a move to protect their native land when their sacred grounds may be at stake.

"They're just interested in their ancestors not being disturbed and I think it's a good thing we have programs in place to comply with this," said Lisa Baker, Bootheel Regional Planning. 

That's where Lisa Baker with the planning commission comes in.

"This is a normal thing for me and I do it for every project," said Baker.

Matthews' drainage project is partially paid for through grant funding. As part of her duty, Baker notifies tribes regularly to ask if they have interest in an area where development is pending.

"It is just a federal regulation that allows the Indian tribes to express their concerns or if they had interest in a cultural significant site within in the project area," said Baker.

Baker filed two letters of notice with the Quapaw. She says after a lot of paperwork the tribe gave up interest and the drainage project can continue as planned. 

"Once we allow the appropriate time for bidding we can start constriction," Baker.

Mayor Burch says the delay didn't cause any issues and in the end he's glad to learn more about the community where he was born and raised.

"We apologize to the Quapaw for not being aware of then but we are now and of we find anything well let them know," said Burch.

Mayor Burch says their road and drainage projects should be done by next summer.

The Quapaw tribe, at their Oklahoma office, says their primary interest is in land further west of the heartland but all grounds are important.

Online: Quapaw Tribe

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