Manataka American Indian Council

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EDITORIAL COMMENT

 

Hernando De Soto - Manataka Commemorative Plaques Desecrated

By Takatoka - Lee Standing Bear Moore

 

 

Statue of Hernando Desoto inside the Fordyce Bathhouse in Hot Springs, Arkansas (Manataka).

Since 1932 two large beautiful bronze plaques were proudly displayed on a large tufa boulder in Arlington Park in downtown Hot Springs, Arkansas.  After many years of diligent research, the plaques were installed by the Hot Springs of Arkansas chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in a beautiful little ceremony.  The plaque was a gift to the people of Hot Springs and a loan to the National Park Service who accepted responsibility to preserve and protect the important words on the plaques.

 

Their placement on "De Soto Rock" located in Arlington Park at the foot of the sacred Manataka (Hot Springs) Mountain was not done in a happenstance manner either.  That particular boulder and facts known to the DAR researchers about its history and the people and place names that are so vital to the real history of Hot Springs and the future of Hot Springs. 

 

Today, the property is controlled by the Hot Springs National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.

 

The national Daughters of the American Revolution is world famous for their exacting historical and genealogical research.  Many of their research projects take years to complete.  With close to 125 years of tradition the DAR has admitted over 930,000 members since its founding in 1890.  They have extraordinary historical collections and countless preservation activities taking place locally, nationally and globally.  The DAR not only double checks all its research data, but in most cases facts are re-checked dozens of times before anything is published.

In August 2014, the local Hot Springs chapter of the DAR's website says:  

 

"The Hot Springs of Arkansas Chapter was organized April 4, 1912, by State Regent Mrs. Julia McAlmont Noel and interested ladies working together to have twelve charter members. When Hernando Desoto visited this site, he found that the Indians were already seeking relief from the stress of their lives by retreating to the "valley of the vapors." The source of these vapors were 47 hot springs flowing from the west base of Hot Springs Mountain. The chapter name was derived from the group of hot springs responsible for the name of the city in which it was organized."  [underlined emphasis is ours]

Sometimes after their founding in 1912, the DAR began to research Hot Springs history.  They poured over historical documents, interviewed hundreds of witnesses, assembled artifacts and consulted with historians, anthropologists, and dozens of other experts.  They labored for nearly two decades before deciding to commission the creation of two (2) important bronze plagues. The beautiful plaques commemorated two major facts in Hot Springs history and celebrated the completion of the first phase in their great work to preserve and protect the history of Hot Springs.  The plaques have hung on Desoto Rock since 1932.

 

The bronze plaque located at the front of De Soto Rock mentions De Soto's visit to the hot springs in 1541.

 

The plaque reads:    "

.

 

 

This valley, long known by the Indians as "Tah-Ne-Co"

"The Place of the Hot Waters" and according to

tradition regarded by the different tribes

as neutral ground was first visited by White men

on September 16, 1541, when Hernando De Soto and his men camped in this vicinity and were led here by the Indians.

According to records of Roderico Ronjel, Secretary to

De Soto and the "Gentleman of Elvas," who was also

a member of the company.  They bathed in the

hot waters and departed October 5, 1541.

 

This marker is placed here by the

HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS, chapter

of the Daughters of the American Revolution

April 30, 1932

 

The other bronze plaque once located on the rear of De Soto Rock nearest the mountainside, contains other facts regarding  the true history of Hot Springs.  It mentions the words, "Manataka", and "Tula".  This plaque also mentions De Soto's visit to the hot springs in 1541

 

However in 2010, the DAR mission of promoting historic preservation, education and patriotism was slapped in the face by Josie Fernandez, current superintendent of Hot Springs National Park.  Their timeless, overarching principles that kept the Hot Springs chapter of the DAR strong and vitally relevant in this ever-changing world was changed forever with an arbitrary decision by Fernandez to remove the large bronze plaque from De Soto Rock in Arlington Park. 

 

Fernandez removed the plaques, hid them away in two separate locations, and never offered any opportunity for the DAR or the people of Hot Springs to relocate these important artifacts in the downtown area.   Out of sight, out of mind.

 

Over the past ten years, Fernandez removed hundreds of other important artifacts from public view. Have they disappeared into an endless labyrinth of government warehouses and mindless bureaucracy and lost forever from our children?

 

(The picture left shows one bronze plaque and one sign at the front of De Soto Rock. The DAR bronze plaques were on both sides of the large boulder.)

 

According to a Hot Springs National Park Service employee, Josie Fernandez removed the historic plaque because it "...mentions the presence Hernando De Soto at the hot springs..."  Fernandez says Desoto and the Conquistadors were "...never here and that is the reason why she had the historic bronze plaque removed...", and hid it inside the closed Lamar Bathhouse.  "...the NPS is focusing on the hot springs and nothing else to conform with the national program called "Healthy Parks, Healthy People."  Fernandez changed the Hot Springs NPS mission statement in 2012 to focus on the "holistic values of the water".   At the same time, she is promoting the manufacture of beer and a possibility other alcoholic beverages inside one of the bathhouses.  Holy water spiked with an alcohol punch.  (a subject of future observations).

 

Three words on the plaque, "Manataka", "Tula" and "De Soto" are disliked by the current administration and therefore they must be removed from public view.

 

In 2009-10, Fernandez wearing her black boots and black FEMA jacket called leaders of the Hot Springs John Percifull Chapter of the DAR on the carpet and brutishly insinuated that the ancestors of present day DAR members were ignorant liars and she removed the bronze plaque because it was full of "inconsistencies and false history". 

 

The kind and gentle ladies of the John Percifull chapter of the DAR did not know much about the bronze plaque because their chapter was not founded until December, 1965 and had nothing to do with the research, creation and placement of the bronze plaque over seventy years earlier by the other DAR chapter in Hot Springs. 

 

There are two chapters of the DAR in Hot Springs.  According to one member of the Hot Springs of Arkansas chapter, it was not consulted over the removal.   And there was no objection from John Percifull chapter over the removal of the historic bronze plaque.  We suppose that none of the ladies wanted to do battle with the abrupt and caustic Fernandez. 

 

Desecration

These two important plaques represent Hot Springs history.  It is history that does not belong to the federal government or some over-bearing bureaucrat.  The National Park Service assumes they have the right to confiscate and bury these artifacts because they were given custody (not ownership - the DAR gave it to the people of Hot Springs).  Like a thief in the night, there was no public announcement regarding removal and there has been no public explanation of their disposition.   Out of sight, out of mind.

 

These artifacts have been arbitrarily removed and hidden away thus denying our children the viewpoints of our ancestors and truth.  This Desecration is a denial of property rights, civil rights, and religious freedom.  The act of removal cannot be justified, unless federal bureaucrats say the plaques are not truth. This desecration was done in a strong-arm, secretive way that begs to be questioned. 

 

The plaques should be returned to the DAR and the City of Hot Springs who will consider appropriate public locations for display. 

 

It is obvious the National Park Service does not want the two plaques because someone says the plaques are flawed and incorrect -- the alleged reason given for removal.  The plaques do have historical and cultural value to a segment of Hot Springs population.  Therefore, it would seem logical and fitting to allow the City to accept the honor of maintaining two bronze plaques and be advised by the DAR.  


Hernando De Soto - Manataka Commemorative Plaque Desecrated

Travels of De Soto's Spanish Conquistadors and the Tula People

Honoring The Tula - People of the Great Water

 


 


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