Fifteen avocational archeologists met on the campus of Southern Arkansas University in November of 1970 and formed the Kadohadacho Chapter of the Arkansas Archeological Society. It is still with us and holds meetings and lectures on the 2nd Tuesday of every month during the school year. The name chosen for the chapter comes from the branch of the Caddo people that once lived in southwest Arkansas and reflected the focus of avocational archeology in the area at the time. Namely, people were very interested in prehistoric sites, which the associated with the Caddo people, now of Binger, Oklahoma.
The state-level organization of the Society came to us a few months back, asking us to spend some time formalizing some structural matters, so we called a meeting of Chapter members. This took place last Saturday. We worked on bylaws, discussed membership criteria, and dealt with some minor issues (such as dues… which we are not having). Since we were in a business mode, we discussed the name of the chapter, and decided to change it. There were several reasons for this. First, “Kadohadacho” is a tongue-twister, and you cannot really mention it to newcomers without getting into the whole story. Second, there are 12,000 years of human habitation in southwest Arkansas, and the name “Kadohadacho” has a very small window of time in which it would be considered appropriate. Both before 800 AD or thereabouts and after about 1835, the name just doesn’t apply. Finally, there are matters of appropriation involved.
Why a Change?
Why change it? What was wrong with “Kadohadacho”?
1: Time Range
First, “Kadohadacho” is only really appropriate, to the best of our knowledge, for a certain period of time. We know it was used at the time of American arrival, so it would be appropriate for sites extending up until the early 1800s. Yet, we think the Caddo came together as a people around 800AD, so this label would be valid for at best one millennium, from 800-1800AD. Before that, probably not, and after that, the Kadohadacho had been forced out of the area. A different name would not imply the same focus, and embrace the 12,000 years of human history we have here in southwest Arkansas.
I can rattle off “Kadohadacho” quite easily because I write about archeology in southwest Arkansas professionally, and it comes up a lot. It’s a lot less clear for most, and explaining it to newcomers is never easy. There are other labels that are more intuitive and that immediately call up clear regional affiliations, and we might change to one of those.
There is a long history of non-Natives using Native names without consulting them, and changing away from “Kadohadacho” would lower that number. It’s a good thing.
All Hail the Red River Chapter!
So, we voted to change the name, and chose “Red River Chapter.” Names like “Great Bend Chapter” and Southwest Chapter” were also on the table. It’s the same chapter, but with a new name. So, keep an eye out for more Red River Chapter material in future!
Secretary/Treasurer, Red River Chapter of the Arkansas Archeological Society