Date of Award
Dr. Trey Berry
Dr. Jeanna Westmoreland
[Excerpt] Among these American hillmen descendants is the MacCleod Family (pseudonym). In early 2001, I heard stories about a clan that lived in the Ouachita woods like "savages." Not originally from Arkansas, I had often heard scornful jokes about Arkansas being a backward state. This perpetuated stereotype enticed m to find out if these extreme MacCleod tales were true. What I found in the region from which the stories originated was a large extended family. I also found that the stories I initially heard were not the only inflated tales circulating the region regarding this particular group. As I become increasingly intrigued with MacCleods and the stereotype surrounding them, I decided to begin an ethnographic study.
Being completely unfamiliar with the region, I started with nothing. To begin, I tracked down local professionals in various fields--ranging from mining to social work--that could point me to the sources I needed. Creating an informative network was difficult, and at times I found myself naively going door-to-door in search of information. After over two years of building my network base and conducting interviews, I received Ouachita's Ben Elrod Scholarship. This enabled me to spend the summer of 2003 conducting in-depth participant observation. I spent the summer in the mountains participating in the everyday life of some MacCleod family units. I traveled almost daily from Hot Springs, my home, to various MacCleod subgroups, learning what I could about their lives.
Taylor, Reyda L., "Transitions from Isolation: An Ethnographic Study of a Contemporary Ouachita Mountains Hillman Culture" (2001). Honors Theses. 159.