Cheyenne- Arapaho Tribes

Concho, OK

Preserving Historic Cheyenne and Arapaho Trails to the Concho Boarding School

Animal and plant spirits, as well as pedestrians, now flourish in a beautiful new recreation area funded by a CRF Phase 1 grant.  The Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes’ project preserved a traditional cultural property of the Tribes, a site once used as a walking path to the historic Concho Boarding school, which includes a bridge that crosses Caddo Springs, a favored spot on the Chisholm Trail. Project goals were to create accessibility to the old bridge, spring, and school, obtain a structural analysis of the bridge’s safety, and educate Tribal members on the historic value of the site. The lands, which were overgrown and unusable, now support health, wellness, and educational outreach, pedestrian safety, and historic preservation. Five tons of trash and 50 tons of brush and tree limbs were removed to create a mile of accessible, inviting walking trails.

“The improved location has breathed a renewed spirit into tribal members. Filled with excitement, they have already begun using the area for walking and other recreational activities. Elders are being interviewed to gain perspective on the area’s history, and have been sharing stories of their personal experiences of the school and bridge. Youth are being given tours of the area. Information is being collected for interpretive signage, which hopefully will lead to a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. The project generated new partners, including the University of Oklahoma, which supplied historic photos of the area, and the National Park Service, which helped with design and layout of the trails. Cheyenne and Arapaho programs generated over 200 hours of in-kind labor to support the project.

The project has jump-started goals far greater than anticipated in the original project objectives. The Tribes now hold a passionate vision of developing an area that preserves and reflects the Tribes’ past, supports future development, and nurtures our commitment to protecting the land, water, history, and most importantly, our Tribes’ identity.”

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