Museum Talk: Indian artifacts on display at BI Museum

Wednesday, October 31, 2012
This Indian grinding stone is on display at Buffalo Island Museum in Monette and was donated by Mae Qualls.

The Buffalo Island Museum has several Indian artifacts. Two of the most interesting are the metate and mono stones donated by Mae Qualls.

Metate is the grinding stone used for grains and seeds, and mano is the Spanish word for 'hand'. American Indians ground their corn into corn meal. Corn was placed into the hollowed out stone and then was pounded by the mano into a powdery form. This could then be used for cornbread, corn pudding or corn syrup. Often this corn meal was mixed with or to thicken other foods.

Corn was an important crop to the Native American Indians. Eaten at almost every meal, it was one of their main foods. Corn was found to be easily stored and preserved during the long cold winter months. Corn came in a variety of colors, such as white, red, blue, and yellow.

When Europeans first came to this country, they were taught about corn by the Indians.

Buffalo Island was once the home of Indians. Some archaeologists believe that Indians have been in Arkansas as early as 12000 B.C.

A hundred years ago, fields in this area were covered with arrowheads and other artifacts, and many people in the Buffalo Island area have collections of arrowheads and pottery.

In the early 1800s, there were several tribes in this area, including the Osages, Quapaws, Choctaws, and the Cherokees. The Cherokees were in Tennessee, the Carolinas, and Georgia, but with the white man moving into their territory, the Cherokees moved west and some settled along the St. Francis River. There were as many as one thousand Cherokees living along the river and in southeast Missouri.

The Choctows drifted to this area from east of the Mississippi River Valley. In the book "The History of Craighead County" by Charles Stuck, a map shows the Indian villages once in the Buffalo Island area.

We thank people like Ms. Qualls who allow us to see the Indian grinding stone and remind us that the area we walk on today was once trod on by an Indian.

The Buffalo Island Museum in Monette is open on Friday and Saturday 12:30-4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, persons may visit our Facebook page. Our e-mail address is

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