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Natchez Indians and European Contact     

The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians is a National Historic Landmark administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Natchez, Mississippi. The site was the main ceremonial mound center for the Natchez Indian tribe during the French colonial period in the Natchez area (1682 - 1730). Today, the Natchez Indians are known through archaeology and through the wealth of colonial documents written by French priests, explorers, merchants, and military personnel.

Archaeological remains indicate that the Grand Village was occupied from around A.D. 1200 until 1730. The site was not a "village". Instead, the mound center served as a ceremonial place. The Natchez chief, called "The Great Sun", lived in a house on top of one of the mounds. The majority of the Natchez tribe lived scattered around the countryside on family farms. The people gathered periodically at the Grand Village for religious and social events. Because the Grand Village was the home of the chief, the French colonial leaders often visited the site to conduct business with the tribe.

The first well-documented French contact with the Natchez Indians occurred on March 26, 1682, when the La Salle Expedition met members of the tribe along the banks of the Mississippi River in the vicinity of the modern city of Natchez, Mississippi. After La Salle, French traders and soldiers traveling the Mississippi River began stopping at the Natchez landing to trade with the tribe. In 1698, the celebrated French-Canadian naval officer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville established an alliance with the Natchez Indians. The French built Fort Rosalie, named in honor of the Countess of Pontchartrain, in 1716 on the Mississippi River bluff at Natchez. The fort served as the nucleus of a colony that helped secure France’s hold on the Lower Mississippi River Valley.

During the 1720s, the French colony at Natchez, backed by the Company of the Indies, experienced a period of growth. However, misunderstandings between the French and the Indians led to a series of conflicts. Another problem for the French was the continued presence of English agents in the Natchez area. England and France were at war in Europe and the two countries competed for Native American allies in the Mississippi River Valley. The Natchez tribe was soon divided into pro-French and pro-English factions. The French colony lost its most influential Indian ally when the Great Sun died of old age in 1728. The pro-English faction of the tribe gained control and led the Natchez Indians in a revolt against the French in November 1729. In the war that followed, the French forced the Natchez Indians to leave their homeland. By the mid-1730s, members of the tribe that escaped capture by the French were adopted by other tribes, including the Chickasaw, Cherokee, and Creek.

Following the war, the French were unable to rebuild their colony at Natchez. However, France maintained a small military garrison at Fort Rosalie until 1763, when the English took control of the Natchez area under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. Today, the National Park Service owns the Fort Rosalie site. The fort site is not developed, however, an interpretive center is planned as part of the development of the Natchez National Historical Park.

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Grand Village Of The Natchez Indians
400 Jeff Davis Blvd Natchez
Natchez City Cemetery
2 Cemetery Rd Natchez

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