The Wilde Olive Blog: Gladlands



Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Arkansas Mississippi River Delta is where I spend most of my days...and each night I cross back East of the Mississippi. Here's a little history from the region just West of the Mississippi.

Arkansas' recorded history is anchored in the region, with early settlers crossing the Mississippi and settling among the swamps and bayous of east Arkansas, including the first state capital at Arksansas Post.
Long before the arrival of settlers however, the region was home to Native Americans, with evidence of mound-building cultures dating back more than 12,000 years. Centuries later, initial American explorations of newly acquired lands from the Louisiana Purchase originated in present-day Monroe County. During the Civil War times, the region was dominated by plantation economy. Many African Americans were brought over throughout the early to mid-1800s to work on plantations. After the Civil War, the region was decimated by the Union and most people lived in extreme poverty with many turning to sharecropping and tenant farming as a way of life. The area was heavily affected by the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927.

The Gladlands, Mississippi River Delta, Arkansas

The Arkansas Delta economy is still dominated by agriculture. The main cash crop is cotton and other crops include rice and soybeans.
The Delta has some of the lowest population densities in the
American South, sometimes less than 1 person per square mile. Demographics have remained the same since the Civil War — the region still has a very large African American population and is stricken with extreme poverty.

A grassroots initiative, The Gladlands, formed in 2000 to promote and stimulate the economy in the Arkansas Delta. "Our mission is to stimulate the economy of Eastern Arkansas through tourism and business development resulting in an improved quality of life for all. Our vision is a vibrant economy generated by tourism and business development and driven by communities working together."

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