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Quapaw Tribe & PAAC Come Together to Celebrate Shared Origin - KOAM TV 7

Quapaw Tribe & PAAC Come Together to Celebrate Shared Origin

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QUAPAW, OKLAHOMA - Remains found at a former slave plantation in Arkansas bring together the Quapaw tribe and the Preservation of African American Cemeteries (PAAC) group in friendship after they learned they shared a common gravesite.

“The family members knew it was there. They didn't know exactly where it was,” says Arkansas Archeological Survey Archeologist John House.

Quapaw graves sit in between about 20-30 slave memorials at the Thibault family's plantation, graves that have been long lost for hundreds of years.

Officials with the preservation society say it's important rural graves like these aren't forgotten.

“Every day we live with our history. And every day the past is a part of each day. So it's very important that we know who the individuals are, what goals they had during their period of living, and what contributions they made to the communities,” says PAAC President Tamela Tenpenny-Lewis.

The discovery brings together two groups, two groups who normally wouldn't be associated with each other to work together, to celebrate their shared history.

Tenpenny-Lewis says "it's very important, a. to appreciation, respect, and honor those that have gone before us. And by not taking care of the cemeteries or by not restoring abandoned cemeteries than we're being disrespectful to our ancestors.”

Over the years University of Arkansas archeologists have salvaged much of the Native American pottery which are now showcased at the casino, and have even been shown at the Smithsonian.

Like the cemetery group, the Quapaw tribe has a deep connection to their roots

“'They represent communities, which in many cases have been dispersed but the descendants still linked to those graves and -ancestors and communities,” says House.

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