The Natchez Indians portrays the way that the Natchez coped with a rapidly changing world, became entangled with the political ambitions of two European superpowers, France and England, and eventually disappeared as a people. The author examines the shifting relationships among the tribe's settlement districts and the settlement districts' relationships with neighboring tribes and with the Europeans.
The establishment of a French fort and burgeoning agricultural colony in their midst signaled the beginning of the end for the Natchez people. Barnett has written the most complete and detailed history of the Natchez to date. James F. In response to the conflicting demands on the Natchez by French and English interests, the district chiefs negotiated autonomously with both colonial powers. By , when the French established Fort Rosalie on the Natchez bluff, the Natchez group was divided in its allegiance to the two European nations.
Natchez people - Wikipedia
Because of its distance from French ports at New Orleans and Mobile, the colony that grew up around Fort Rosalie depended on the Natchez Indians for food and other necessities, which the Natchez exchanged for guns, blankets, iron tools, and other European goods.
As the local colony expanded to include two tobacco plantations, friction between the Natchez and French helped to sway the Natchez settlement districts toward alliances with the English. Assured by English traders of a reliable supply of merchandise to replace that coming from the French, the Natchez attacked the French colony on 28 November With the help of Indian allies, the French retaliated early the following year.
In the war that followed, the Natchez people abandoned their homeland for refuge with pro-English groups including the Chickasaw, Creek, and Cherokee.
The Natchez Indians: A History to 1735 (Paperback or Softback)
Today, groups of Natchez descendants are recognized in South Carolina and Oklahoma. In the year last named a body of Natchez refugees settled in South Carolina by permission of the colonial government, but some years later moved up to the Cherokee country, where they still kept their distinct town and language up to about the year The principal body of refugees, however, had settled on Tallahassee creek, an affluent of Coosa river.
Hawkins in estimated their gun-men at about They occupied the whole of one town called Natchez and part of Abikudshi. The Natchez were therefore not exterminated by the French, as has frequently been stated, but after suffering severe losses the remainder scattered far and wide among alien tribes. A few survivors, who speak their own language, still exist in Indian Territory, living with the Cherokee, and in the councils of the Creeks until recently had one representative.
Though the accounts of the Natchez that have come down to us appear to be highly colored, it is evident that this tribe, and doubtless others on the lower Mississippi, occupied a somewhat anomalous position among the Indians. They seem to have been a strictly sedentary people, depending for their livelihood chiefly upon agriculture.
They had developed considerable skill in the arts, and wove a textile fabric from the inner bark of the mulberry which they employed for clothing. They made excellent pottery and raised mounds of earth upon which to erect their dwellings and temples.
They were also one of the eastern tribes that practiced head flattening. In the main the Natchez appear to have been peaceable, though like other tribes, they were involved in frequent quarrels with their neighbors.
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All accounts agree in attributing to them an extreme forma of sun worship and a highly developed ritual. Moreover, the position and function of chief among them differed markedly from that among other tribes, as their head chief seems to have had absolute power over the property and lives of his subjects. On his death his wives were expected to surrender their lives, and parents offered their children as sacrifices.
The nation was divided into two exogamic classes, nobility and commoners or michmichgupi , the former being again divided into suns, nobles proper, and esteemed men.