Natchitoches (Nak-a-tosh) Parish's name, which translates as "chestnut or pawpaw eaters", was derived from the Indian tribe of that name, who dwelt in the area now occupied by the city and who were members of the Caddo Confederacy. Natchitoches was first explored by LaSalle, in 1687 and was settled, according to tradition, by Canary Islanders, who came by way of Mexico in 1691. It was further explored in 1700 by Bienville and Louis Juchereau de St. Denis. The establishment of Natchitoches was both commerically and politically motivated. Click here for even more details.
Antoine Crozat, one of the richest men in France and made a Marquis by the King of France, obtained control of the Province of Louisina as a business venture. In 1713, he directed Governor Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, stationed at Biloxi, to establish a post on Red River for the dual purpose of opening up trade with the Spaniards of Mexico and of checking the eastward movement of these same Spaniards, who were in the Texas area.
On November 27, 1714, St.
Denis and a party of twenty-four French voyageurs and six Indian
guides, having ascended the Red River to the point where it was
completely blocked by the "great raft", disembarked on
the west bank. Here, with the aid of the friendly Natchitoches
Indians, whom St. Denis had visited some fifteen years earlier,
they built two stout cabins. Thus was founded
Natchitoches-outpost of empire- the first white settlement in the
The parish seat of Natchitoches is Natchitoches. With an area totally 1,256.4 square miles, Natchitoches Parish has 17 schools, 2 rail lines, 1 airport and 45 churches.
Agriculture: pecans, beef
cattle, cotton, and soybeans.
Industry: Paper, plywood, trailer manufacturing, cottonseed oil, bricks, and cement.
Tourist Attractions: Christmas Festival of Lights, held the first Saturday in December; historical townhomes built along Front Street in Natchitoches (one dating from 1776); Natchitoches Pilgrimage, held the second weekend of October, featuring many antebellum homes; Melrose Plantation; Bayou Folk Museum; Los Adaes Historical Park; Roque House Mueum; the Creole Craft House and the grave of the Unknown Confederate Soldier at Rebel Park
Natchitoches is the major city in Natchitoches Parish.
Natchitoches, was a busy outpost, having been established by St. Denis in 1714, long before the discovery of New Orleans. This is the center of El Camino real country, with many homes and landmarks preserved. The proud citizens claim,"We've got more history than anyone else in the state". Northwestern State University, founded in 1884, and the Grand Ecore Amphitheater are also in Natchitoches. This city is where old and new stand side by side. Thousands visit Natchitoches for the annual Christmas Festival of Lights, which is held the first Saturday in December.