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Natchez - A tribe of Indians related to the great Muskhogean family, who were the largest and strongest on the lower Mississippi River at the time Louisiana was settled by the French.  the Natchez were noted for their type of government, being ruled over by a chief called the "Great Sun," who actually was a sort of king, as he had the power of life and death over his subjects.  When the "Great Sun" died all his wives were executed.

Unlike most tribes, in which the government was democratic and each Indian cherished his independence, the Natchez had a king, so to speak, and "nobles" and "common people."  The nobles were grouped after the Great Sun as "Suns" then "Nobles," and then "Honored People," or aristocrats.  The common people were termed "Stinkers."

An early French writer, in telling of the Great Sun, said:

"Every morning as soon as the sun appears, the great chief comes to the door of his cabin, turns himself to the east, and howls three times, bowing to the earth.  Then they bring him a calumet, which serves only for this purpose.  He smokes, and blows the smoke of his tobacco towards the sun; then he does the same thing toward the other three parts of the world.  He acknowledges no superior but an unlimited power over his subjects, can dispose of their goods and lives,  and for whatever labors he requires of them they cannot demand any recompense."

The Natchez were Mound Builders when first encountered by the French.  The center of their nation was near the great Emerald Mound in Mississippi.  this tribe was first mentioned in narratives of La Salle's descent of the Mississippi River in 1682, when it was located a little east of present city of Natchez.

Relations between the French and the Natchez were hostile for a time and then peace was made.  But in 1729 the Indians attacked a French settlement and massacred 200 persons.  The French and the Choctaw campaigned against the Natchez, and drove them from their homes.  Some joined the Creek, others the Cherokee.  Today a few are identified with these tribes in Oklahoma.  Their name has been preserved in that of Natchez, Mississippi, and in villages in Alabama, Louisiana, and Indiana.
 

 


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