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Indians supplied much of what government Arkansans enjoyed during that period, during which France and then Spain claimed the Mississippi River’s west bank.Theoretically, French and Spanish commandants at Arkansas Post enjoyed considerable political, military, and juridical authority.Robert Crittenden, Arkansas’s first territorial secretary, became the figure that other ambitious men rallied around or organized against.

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Community life organized itself differently among various Indian groups.

The Caddo lived in dispersed but hierarchical rural communities that allied with one another, forming confederacies.

They presumed to regulate trade, commercial hunting, and Indian relations.

But the settler population was too small, scattered, and obstreperous, and soldiers too few, for this power to be very meaningful.

Moreover, the Family hardly ruled without challenge.

Some prominent politicians—such as Archibald Yell, Chester Ashley, and Solon Borland—eventually put some distance between themselves and the Family, as did the state’s most important newspaper, the .

Louisiana Purchase through Early Statehood In the fifteen years after the Louisiana Purchase, Arkansas remained merely a district within a larger trans-Mississippi jurisdiction—dubbed Louisiana Territory in 1805 and renamed Missouri Territory in 1812—that comprised the whole of the purchase north of the thirty-third parallel.

If anything, Arkansans complained that they were not governed enough under this arrangement.

This authority sometimes extended beyond individual communities, but none of these chiefdoms seem ever to have united all of what would become Arkansas under a single government.

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