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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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New Caddo Springs Walking Trail Exhibits Education And Historic Scenery
by Latoya Lonelodge, Staff Reporter - Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribal Tribune

Years ago, piles of trash and dumpsters filled the grounds of Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal land. Over time and with a little bit of help, the same location where much of history is held, is being put to great use by preservation.

When the seasons change and with the weather cooler, preserving culture and history is just one way of introducing a new walking trail on tribal land.

On Oct. 27, the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) held their grand opening of the Caddo Springs Walking Trail in Concho, Okla. The project was funded by a Cultural Resource Grant given by the Multicultural Initiative for Community Advancement (MICA) Group in 2015.

The grant was written by Damon Dunbar and Kimberly Goodbear, who then passed it on to THPO to takeover on the project in early 2016.

"I was working for Procurement Grants and Contracts (PG&C) at the time when this grant came across me and we went ahead and wrote it for the first phase, which was $15,000, we ended up getting that assessed on the old bridge down here, some of the elders thought it could be incorporated into it, we thought about the safety factors, we wanted to make sure everything was safe, that it was able to walk on, we got some studies done on it and when you go across it you can tell it's really structurally sound," Damon Dunbar, Community Development director said.

Dunbar said he remembers the time when there was the site of dumpsters and dump piles located where the newly established walking trail now flourishes.

"My first goal was to get all this trash cleaned up and with the assistance of the Tax Commission, we got all of it cleaned up and all those trees taken care of. We quit all that dumping and preserved our land, this is all of our land. This is a recreational area and now we have a beautiful trail here for our kids and elders and whoever wants to get down here and walk and I believe it's going to be a success story from here on out," Dunbar said.

The opening of the walking trail exhibited all the benefits of engaging with nature and the scenery. The vision that Dunbar and Goodbear initially had for the walking trail project was brought to light for everybody to also enjoy.

"I was grateful enough to work with Damon on this grant to make this vision possible and come to light for everybody, I've been out here for nine years, I still come out here when I want to unwind and enjoy nature and what you guys have all been given out here and I love it out here. Sometimes I just sit on the bridge, dangle my feet, look at the creek, enjoy it and pray sometimes. I hope the kids enjoy it out here and the elders get to reminisce about either growing up out here or things they know they can pass on to the young ones and teach," Kimberly Goodbear, Planning and Development tech writer said.

The trail has various routes with scenery of sumac plants, flowerbeds and rest stops along the paths. Two trails, named Whitetail and Sumac, are the primary trails routed in the walking trail full of education, stories and history.

"We've been given very specific definitions and rules and deliverables that they had basically promised in the grant. In the grant they promised raised flower beds in the trail and there's a story behind the historic photos that we're going to be telling and putting up, there's languages, community input, so that's when we worked with our youth, Child Development and through the fall break camp outs, that's when we worked with Health Education to do the 50 Million Step Challenge, we partner with them on the Bigfoot Hustle because they wanted to walk the trail and so every chance we get to partner with other programs that's what we do. It all ties together and it all comes together in a community effort and this is what you see happening out here today, everybody coming together and everybody's efforts coming together," Virginia Richey, THPO officer said.

The walking trail, mapped out is about 1.2 miles with extra small trails routed along the paths, making the trail more of a lengthy scenery walk.

"This trail has really come a long way because the trail has always been here but it's always been a dirt path, rabbit trail, hunting trail, whatever you want to call it. But it's all been cleaned up, there was a bunch of extra mulch, but they found out it was too big and if you put it all out there on the trail there was a risk of injury, so we had to get rid of a lot of that," Max Bear, THPO director said.

With renovations, planning, constructing and partnering with other programs, the walking trail is now open for all to come and exhibit the various features routed along the trail.

For more information on the Caddo Springs Walking Trail, contact Tribal Historic Preservation Office, 405-422-7484

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