Our Native Indian Heritage
Who would expect to find perched on a hill in Mansfield, hidden behind a video store ancient artifacts? I'd heard about this curiosity from Kathy Short but it was another thing to discover it for myself... Cautiously, I stepped into the video store owned by Murl and Marjorie Pierson, I wound my way back thru CD's to where a light glowed in a doorway. There I peered into another world... instantly transported to different, more primitive time.
This labor of love has been painstakingly built by this unique couple... They took their own retirement to build and store these objects... relics of the past, for us... you and I to enjoy!
I was literally blown away by a 27' long dugout canoe in absolutely amazing condition. They recount the story, told by her grandfather, a relation to the man who found it, while building his A frame home on the creek, between Vera Cruz and Bryant Creek, just south east of Ava. He caught a glimpse of something unusual, sticking out from the river bank, forming a long narrow pointing tip... of what turned out to be an ancient dug out canoe.
After many days of sweat driven labor, he dug this 27' foot relic from the rock, clay soil... this all happened around 1973. The tale goes the wife was unhappy with the new large home he built for her "I told you I didn't want that house," so, she stayed comfortably in their cozy A frame... The large house sat empty until the family passed away and new people moved in... the dug out was then moved to Show Me Realty where it was stored until Marjorie and Murl rescued it and gave it it's new home at the museum.
Offers have been made from Bass Pro and the Smithsonian... but they have resisted the temptation and proudly display it in their unique museum.
I spoke to Dr. Neal Lopinot of MSU Archaelogical Department who had taken a sliver to find what kind of wood it is.
He said it is Bald Cypress from perhaps the lower Mississippi Valley... it might have traveled up the White River to get to where it laid at rest for several hundred years. Carbon dating is expensive and although it would be fun to have it done, the $300. to do so makes it less feasible for Murl and Marjorie's small museum. He also stated that ax cut-marks are visible and he believes that would put it close to the 1700's!
In my minds eye, I picture a heroic native paddling his way north perhaps hunting food, or tracking a traitor.. leaving his canoe in search and never returning... what stories this old canoe could tell.
The Ozarks were inhabited by hundreds of bands or tribes of American Indians. From the Kaskaskia, Cahokia, Peoria, Saukees of the eastern Ozarks to the Shawnee, Pawnee, Osage, Choctaw of the west, the Ozark’s Plateau was filled with other tribes too numerous to mention, or so I learned from Murl and Marjorie...
They took ownership of the Western Cherokee Organization in 2015. Their sole desire is to bring people of culture together. As of 2014 there were 55,000 members. So this valiant couple rolled their retirement over and took the lions share and built the museum!
Their love of their heritage and the Indian people inspired this risk. They immediately set up collecting artifacts since 2004- 2005 and have set up a substantial library. Then the most miraculous thing happened... other people started sharing their treasures. A drum here, a head dress there... and little by little the collection has grown to a great representation of a proud people from the past.
I walked away in awe of the beauty of the exhibit, but also with an admiration for this dedicated couple.
This committed couples dream is to see the museum self supporting. They have set up a non profit board and they hope to inspire others devoted to the preservation of our history... this takes support, this takes commitment, this takes a caring heart! For any who have a desire to preserve our history contact them at: firstname.lastname@example.org