The Shawnee Hills are located in northwestern Pittsburg County, northwest of McAlester between the Hughes-Pittsburg County line and Indianola, and are primarily situated in an east-west direction parallel to the south bank of the main Canadian River. With elevations reaching nearly 1,000 feet above sea level, the hills overlie the Arkoma Basin, located north of the Ouachita Mountain Province, and consist of west-dipping Pennsylvanian-age sandstone ridges overlooking plains of marine-deposited shales. The area soils are primarily of the Enders-Hector-Hartsells association, consisting of well-drained and excessively well-drained, moderately deep to shallow loamy soils overlying sandstones and shales. Post oak and blackjack oak timbers comprise the dominant native vegetation, and approximately 85 percent of the native cover remains.
Archeological evidence suggests that prehistoric hunters and foragers inhabited the area from approximately 8000 B.C. to A.D. 1, at which time farming began to replace this lifestyle. Caddoan farmers probably inhabited the hills until the late 1500s, when the climate turned drier, after which the early buffalo hunter culture developed. In 1830, according to the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, the Shawnee Hills became part of the Choctaw Nation.
After European settlement the Shawnee Hills were a prominent landmark on the Shawnee Trail, a cattle trail connecting the herds in Texas with a shipping point in Baxter Springs, Kansas. Despite being overshadowed by the nearby Sans Bois, Jackfork, and Ouachita mountains, the Shawnee Hills continue to provide a picturesque, intact timberland environment rich with native flora and fauna.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Claudette Marie Gilbert, Oklahoma Prehistory (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980). Kenneth S. Johnson, "Mountains, Streams, and Lakes of Oklahoma," Oklahoma Geological Survey Informational Series No. 1 (Norman: Oklahoma Geological Survey, 1998). Kenneth S. Johnson, et al., Geology and Earth Resources of Oklahoma: An Atlas of Maps and Cross Sections (Norman: Oklahoma Geological Survey, 1972). John W. Morris, Charles R. Goins, and Edwin C. McReynolds, Historical Atlas of Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986).
Jamie J. Patton and Richard A. Marston
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