Mission and Significance Statements
The mission of the Fort Smith National Historic Site is to preserve and protect the cultural and natural resources at the site of two western frontier military forts and the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas; through education, instill awareness appreciation and understanding of the resources and historical and cultural diversity, primarily as it relates to Federal Indian Policy; and to provide a clean, safe, and accessible park to all visitors.
The purpose of the Fort Smith National Historic Site is to preserve, protect, and interpret the sites of two western frontier military forts and the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas in accordance with National Park Service policies, rules, and regulations.
Fort Smith National Historic preserves the sites of two frontier forts on the boundary of Indian Territory and the Federal Court for the Western District of Arkansas. The site represents over 80 years of activity by the United States to attempt to administer justice for Native Americans and control the nature of westward expansion and settlement through both the U.S. Army and the Federal Court System. It is the only National Park site that interprets the Federal Court system, crime and punishment in the 19th century West, the U.S. Marshals' history on the frontier, as well as the settlement of Indian Territory and how the nature of Federal Indian Policy throughout the entire 19th century affected that process. It specifically addresses the forced removal of Indians from East to West through its designation as a unit of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail.
Did You Know?
The U.S. Army selected a spot overlooking the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers for the site of a fort. Soldiers from the Rifle Regiment arrived in 1817 and named the site Fort Smith after their commanding officer, Thomas A. Smith.