The Multi-Vocal Trailscape of the Natchitoches Trace: A Trail of Tears, Trade and Transformation

Narchitoches Trace

Publication: Landscapes: Journal of the International Centre for Landscape and Language

Author: Jade L. Robison

Date of Publication: March 2018

PDF File: Robison-2018-The-Multi-Vocal-Trailscape-of-the-Natchitoches-Tra.pdf



This paper demonstrates how individuals have inscribed the Natchitoches Trace trailscape with meaningful narratives via oral traditions, historical accounts and material evidence, and considers how descendent populations curate their heritage in such a landscape. Beginning at the mouth of the Missouri River near St. Louis, the Natchitoches Trace stretches southwest through the Ozark region in Missouri and Arkansas, and onto Natchitoches, Louisiana. Created by pre-Columbian groups for trading purposes, the trail was later utilised by early European pioneer families for westward expansion. The 1830 Indian Removal Act forced the repurposing of the trail as a route of exile for displaced Cherokee, an event commemorated as the Trail of Tears. An examination of the historical context of these shared memories reveals how the cultural landscape of the Natchitoches Trace was constructed and repeatedly built upon. In this way, descendent populations are able to curate their cultural heritage in the trailscape, which serves as a repository for these narratives. With a focus on the Ozark region of Missouri, I demonstrate the multi-vocality of the Natchitoches Trace trailscape as it was continually shaped and remade by groups of people with different cultural identities and motivations.