The Natchez Indians were among the last Indian groups to inhabit the
area now known as southwestern Mississippi.
Their direct ancestors, known to archaeologists as the
"Plaquemine" culture, can be traced back to about 1200 A.D. The Natchez
language was related to several other native languages in the Southeast and
links the Plaquemine people to still earlier cultures in the LowerMississippi RiverValley.
The Natchez people lived on
scattered family farms, growing corn, beans and squash. They also hunted,
fished and gathered wild plant foods. The tribe was led by a hereditary
chief and was divided into classes of nobility and commoners. Clans and
matrilineal kinship affiliations further subdivided the tribe.
Mound building was an expression of the complex tribal religion with the
mounds serving as bases for important buildings. The Plaquemine people
constructed several ceremonial mound centers in the Natchez
area, including sites known today as the GrandVillage of the Natchez Indians
and Emerald Mound.
By the early 1700's the French had established a small colony at Natchez
and English traders were making contact with the tribe. Tribal allegiance
was soon split between the French and English. Growing tensions between these
factions, combined with the Indians' dissatisfaction with the French
colonial administrators led to the Indian rebellion against the French in
1729. In the brief war that followed, the Natchez
were driven out of their homeland. Refugees soon joined other tribes,
including the Chickasaws, Creeks and Cherokees. A century later, when the U.S.
government moved these tribes to reservation lands in Oklahoma,
the Natchez descendants moved
The Natchez Trace began centuries ago as a footpath, used by the Indians
for movements between the southern and central areas of the North American
continent. Parties of Chickasaw, Choctaw, Natchez
and other southern tribes certainly followed this route on their way to
Middle Tennessee, Kentucky
and the territory of the present North Central States. Many Indian war
parties passed over the Trace to attack feeble white settlements in Tennessee,
and over it in return hurried armed bands of settlers to attack and destroy
their Indian adversaries south of the Tennessee River.
As the number of white settlers increased and their land and water
traffic grew, Natchez in the MississippiTerritory became more and more
important. The settlers floated their products downriver to Natchez
and beyond, but many of them eschewed the long and laborious upstream
journey by river, choosing to return by land over the old Chickasaw Trace.
Beginning in 1801, the U.S.
government began utilizing the old Trace. In the War of 1812 General Andrew
Jackson used this road to good advantage going to and from the battle of New
With the advent of the steamboat era, river traffic grew and the Trace
fell into dis-use. In the mid-20th century, the
Daughters of the American Revolution researched the site of the original
route and marked it with granite boulders. The historic significance of the
Natchez Trace led to the creation of the Natchez
Trace Parkway, which cuts diagonally across Mississippi,
crosses the Tennessee River near Muscle Shoals in Alabama
and then runs directly to Nashville,
for a total of about 450 miles.
At 400 Jefferson Davis Boulevard
in Natchez, this historic park encompasses
some of the land occupied by the Natchez Indians between 1682 and 1729. The
Village offers ceremonial mounds, reconstructed dwellings, and a nature
trail. There is a visitor center, a refreshment center, an audio-visual
room and a bookstore/gift shop. Admission is free. Open Monday through
Saturday from and on
Sunday from Call (601)
446-6502. Email email@example.com.