Arkansas Historic Preservation Program
Hughes Mound Site
Hughes Mound Site

HUGHES MOUND SITE, RESTRICTED, SALINE COUNTY

ELABORATION

The Hughes Mound Site is the only prehistoric pyramidal mound center known south of Benton in the middle of the Saline River valley, and the only known late prehistoric mound center in the Saline River basin north of the Felsenthal region.  It was the top of the late prehistoric settlement hierarchy in the valley, an important social and religious center on the northeastern frontier of the Caddoan area, and perhaps the closest Caddoan center to late prehistoric Quapaw settlements in the Arkansas River valley.  The Hughes Mound center can contribute to our understanding of late prehistoric subsistence settlement and social systems in this region and can help delineate the relationship between Caddoan and Quapaw cultures in the centuries just before European settlement of Arkansas.

The Saline River valley is physiographically and geographically intermediate between the Trans-Mississippi South and the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, two physiographic and archeological areas which supported distinctively different cultural systems throughout much of prehistory.  The record of environmental and cultural interaction between these two broad areas is preserved in part in the cultural resources of the Saline River valley.  Understanding the pattern of human settlement and adaptation within this valley will contribute not only to a delineation of local and regional cultural history, but will also play a part in interpreting broader cultural behavior patterns across this portion of the eastern United States.

The artifacts found to date at the Hughes Mound Site are characteristic of very late prehistoric aboriginal Caddoan culture, but they have not been dated by chronometric methods.  No contact period artifacts of European manufacture are yet known to have been found at the site, but the possibility remains that the site dates to the period of time between the DeSoto entrada and the explorations of LaSalle and Tonti, and therefore may be an extremely rare settlement of the protohistoric period of Arkansas prehistory.  Future research at the site will undoubtedly clarify its chronological as well as its socio-political position.

The devastation of other archeological sites from all periods of prehistory now going on in the Saline River valley makes the Hughes Mound Site of further significance.  If the current rate of pothunting continues unabated, this site, which has been a local and regional landmark for over a century, will be one of the very few known cultural resources in the Middle Saline River valley to retain its historic and scientific integrity.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Palmer, Edward 1917.  Arkansas Mounds.  Publications of the Arkansas Historical Association, Vol. 4, pp. 390-448.

Thomas, Cyrus 1894.  Report of the Mound Explorations of the Bureau of Ethnology.  Twelfth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology.

West, George A. 1934.  Tobacco Pipes and Smoking Customs of the American Indian.  Bulletin of the Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee, Vol. XVII, Part I.