TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — The Cherokee Nation has signed an agreement with the National Park Service to allow citizens to gather plants within Arkansas’ Buffalo National River to use for purposes including food, crafts and medicine.

The river, located in Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains, was established as the country’s first national river in 1972.


“This area has a vibrant history of helping sustain our Cherokee people with food, the cane and bushes for our Cherokee crafts, and leaves and roots for traditional medicine,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said.

The agreement, announced Wednesday, will establish a process for Cherokee citizens to gather plants in parts of the national park including the Lost Valley, Tyler Bend, Buffalo Point and Rush areas.

“This is an important step in the continuing efforts to embrace our tribal partners in the management of public lands at Buffalo National River,” said Mark Foust, National Park Service Superintendent at Buffalo National River. “The Cherokee Nation offers invaluable information, ecological knowledge, and a unique perspective that will lead to a better understanding of the benefits of public land.”


Also Wednesday, the tribe announced a plan to dedicate nearly 1,000 acres of land in Adair County, Oklahoma, to protect culturally significant plants.