Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.5

     challenging words:    westward, early, conquistador, Hernando, journey, battle, eastern, between, bison, background, people, rainfall, often, goods, several, pottery
     content words:    North America, Hernando De Soto, La Salle, Mississippi River, Arkansas Post, Revolutionary War, United States, Louisiana Purchase, North Carolina, Civil War

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By Cindy Grigg

1     Early prehistoric people lived in Arkansas between 600 B.C. and 1200 A.D. They left behind some arrowheads, scraps of pottery, and cave paintings. Arkansas has some of the best cave paintings, or "rock art," in eastern North America. These pictures are important because they tell us a little about the early people who lived here a long, long time ago. We know that they made their paint by crushing red or black rocks and mixing animal fat or fish oil with it. Sometimes they painted with twigs using them like you would use a paintbrush. Sometimes they painted with their fingers. Sometimes they scratched their pictures into the rock using a sharp rock or other simple tool. These early native people, or Indians, spent all their time hunting for food: plants, berries, and animals.
2     Later, Indians who lived in Arkansas learned to grow crops like corn, squash, pumpkins, and beans. This was important because it let them build villages and stay in one place, instead of always moving to hunt for food. Hernando De Soto, a Spanish explorer or conquistador, was the first white man to come to Arkansas in 1541. His men wrote about large villages with as many as 50,000 Indian people living in them. The Indians hunted bison, deer, bear, and small animals. Later, the French sent explorers. In 1682, La Salle claimed the whole Mississippi River valley for France. By this time, not very many Indians were left in Arkansas. No one is sure why, but it might be because the first white explorers brought disease which caused the Indians to die. There were also several years of drought, or little rainfall, which would have made it hard for the Indians to grow enough food. In 1686, one of La Salle's men set up a "post," the first European settlement or town, at Arkansas Post on the Mississippi River. Six people lived there. The French people got along well with the Indians. They traded with each other, and the Indians showed the French how to live in the new land. In 1783, a British raid on Arkansas Post was the only Revolutionary War battle west of the Mississippi River. The Indians won the battle for Arkansas Post.
3     In 1762, the land of Arkansas was given to Spain. In 1800, it was passed back to France. In 1803, France sold the land including Arkansas to the United States. This was called the Louisiana Purchase, and it doubled the size of the young United States. Arkansas was the third state made out of the land of the Louisiana Purchase.

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