The Murals on Main project was launched in 1992 by Pine Bluff Downtown Development, Inc., a non-profit organization with the goal of revitalizing downtown. Thirteen murals have been completed so far, and nine more are planned for a total of 22. About Chief Saracen
The Chief Saracen mural located at Barraque & Main is the first in Pine Bluff by Robert Dafford, the internationally known mural artist who painted it. It is not known exactly how much of the Chief Saracen story is legend and how much is truth, but it is known that the event portrayed in the story occured before Pine Bluff was an incorpororated city and before Arkansas was a state. The story
- The Story of Chief Saracen
According to legend, two children were stolen from
their mother at Pine Bluff by a marauding band of Chickasaw. The old Quapaw
Chief Saracen promised the distraught mother to return the children and went
in pursuit of the Chickasaw. Overtaking them downstream on the Arkansas River,
Saracen waited until nightfall and when the Chickasaw were asleep he broke
the night's stillness with the Quapaw war cry. The frightened Chickasaw disappeared
into the night abandoning the children. Saracen gathered up the children and
returned them to their mother.
In 1824 the Quapaws signed a treaty to abandon claims
to land in southeast Arkansas and move to Caddo country near present day Texarkana.
Antoine Barraque and Saracen led the exodus but the new location did not work
out and most of the Quapaws quietly moved back to Jefferson County. A final
treaty was signed in 1833 when they agreed to move to Oklahoma just northwest
of Fort Smith, but Saracen did not go. His petition to the governor to stay
was granted, and he spent his last days on the banks of the Arkansas River
near where the Port of Pine Bluff is now located on land given to him by the
State of Arkansas. He is buried in St. Josephs Catholic Cemetery where visitors
often go just to see his monument.
When he died he was buried in the Old Town cemetery
behind the Methodist Church that was at 4th and Main. In 1888 the cemetery
was moved and the grave of Saracen was brought to the attention of Father
J. M. Lucy of St. Joseph's Catholic Church. Bishop Edward Fitzgerald, after
getting a petition from Father Lucy, agreed to allow Saracen's remains to
be reinterred in the Catholic Cemetery.
In the early 1880's Edward Palmer was sent to Pine
Bluff by the Bureau of Ethnology to collect Quapaw information and artifacts.
Then they wanted to dig up Saracen's body and send it to Washington, D.C.
The people of Pine Bluff refused to reveal to the Washington bureaucrat where
Saracen was buried. So, the old chief "rested in peace" with the
townspeople who had regarded him highly.
The paintings, museums
and historic district, featuring residences and landmarks that are on the National
Register of Historic Places, offer a unique downtown attraction. More information about events and other points of interest available from
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