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The Natchez Indians

A History to 1735

James F. Jr. Barnett

Publication Year: 2007

The Natchez Indians: A History to 1735 is the story of the Natchez Indians as revealed through accounts of Spanish, English, and French explorers, missionaries, soldiers, and colonists, and in the archaeological record. Because of their strategic location on the Mississippi River, the Nat-chez Indians played a crucial part in the European struggle for control of the Lower Mississippi Valley. The book begins with the brief con-frontation between the Her-nando de Soto expedition and the powerful Quigualtam chiefdom, presumed ances-tors of the Natchez. In the late seventeenth century René-Robert Cavelier de La Salle's expedition met the Natchez and initiated sustained European encroachment, exposing the tribe to sickness and the dangers of the Indian slave trade. 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. Barnett Jr. is the director of the Division of Historic Properties, Mississippi Department of Archives and History. He has published articles in Journal of Mississippi History, Mississippi Archaeology, Southern Quarterly, and other journals.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi


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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xii

I AM INDEBTED TO a number of people who helped in various ways with First of all, I want to thank Joseph V. “Smokye” Frank III for reviewing an earlier version of this manuscript and for generously sharing with me his extensive library of archaeological reports and his considerable knowledge of local sites, artifacts, and French maps. Frank was a member of Robert Neitzel’s exca-...

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pp. xiii-xviii

EARLY ON THE MORNING OF MARCH 11,1700, a file of canoes manned by French Canadian soldiers and voyageurs snaked upstream against the Mississippi River’s current. The sunlight flickered through the trees on the bluffs above the east bank. Along the river’s west bank, the trees crowding the river were inundated in places by spring floodwaters. The expedition’s commander, Pierre ...

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Chapter One. Warrior Boatmen

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pp. 3-20

IN APRIL 1542, Spanish soldiers encamped along the Mississippi River with Hernando de Soto first heard the name “Quigualtam.” According to Indians living near the mouth of the Arkansas River, Quigualtam was a powerful nation led by a chief of the same name who controlled the great river a short distance to the south. For reasons outlined in the story that follows, the Spaniards would never ...

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Chapter Two. European Reconnaissance, 1682–1715

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pp. 21-62

BY THE END OF THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY, the native peoples of the Lower Mississippi Valley (Figure 3) had become unknowing subjects of an overlapping patchwork of competing political, economic, and religious empires. Europe’s superpowers weren’t timid when they staked their claims to North America: ...

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Chapter Three. European Occupation, 1715–1729

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pp. 63-100

ANDRÉ PÉNICAUT HAPPENED TO BE at the Natchez trading post again in late 1715 when an incident on a lonely stretch of the Mississippi River sparked the confrontation known as “the first Natchez war.” According to Pénicaut, four voyageurs on their way from Mobile to the Illinois country stopped at the Natchez landing and hired four Natchez Indians to assist them in paddling. ...

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Chapter Four. The Rebellion

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pp. 101-131

IN THE FALL OF 1729, the plantations at the Natchez were brimming with row upon row of shoulder-high tobacco plants. Of particular interest to the concessionaires were the plants being grown from seeds stolen from the English in Virginia, which the Company of the Indies hoped would please discriminating French smokers.1 The White Earth or Belle-Isle concession was the Natchez ...

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pp. 132-135

AFTER THE CHICKASAW WARS, few Natchez Indians remained in the Lower Mississippi Valley. In addition to the remnant of the tribe discussed above, which may have held on until the end of the eighteenth century in their old home place, a few Natchez families apparently remained with the Chickasaws into the ...


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pp. 136-163


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pp. 164-173


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pp. 175-185

E-ISBN-13: 9781604733099
E-ISBN-10: 1604733098
Print-ISBN-13: 9781578069880
Print-ISBN-10: 1578069882

Publication Year: 2007