The trees at the heart of this paper are not an isolated story but contribute to the machinery of the settler colonial present, feeding off indigenous dispossession of the Arkansas Ozarks. In this paper, I explore “trail trees,” a form of culturally-modified tree used to sustain and perpetuate replacement narratives romanticizing a lost Native American past and constructing a pure, modern, scientific “reality” of White settler possession of the region. My critique is directed at the settler colonial worldview and the systems through which it is constructed, legitimated, and spread. I ask: What is at stake for advocates for the existence of “trail trees”? What can disrupt and dismantle the “trail tree” discourse and the replacement narrative that it functions within? What work can we do to create an opening for anti-colonial praxis? The answers to these questions involve direct engagement with conservation and conservationists and the narratives of replacement that suffuse their work.

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