Today, I want to speak with you about other nations embedded within the Cherokee Nation that we often ignore. We don’t typically consider their experiences, and I think it’s important to do so. Take, for example, the Natchez people. We often think of removal as part of a very broad displacement, involving the involuntary displacements of native peoples over the centuries. The Natchez experienced repeated displacements and removals from different places, eventually being swept up in the Cherokee removals, having to pass their original homeland only to end up in the Cherokee Nation.

This map shows some of the key points in the experience of the Natchez people, beginning in Natchez, Mississippi, which is an English pronunciation of “Natchez.” They traveled through various places, including South Carolina, in a series of moves and involuntary displacements within a fairly short period. When Europeans first encountered the Natchez, they were settled in the lower Mississippi River Valley, and 100 years later, they had moved to what is now Natchez, Mississippi.

This 1718 French map of the lower Mississippi River Valley prominently features the Natchez, among other nations. The Natchez were unique in retaining traditional Mississippian cultural patterns, such as building mounds and temples, and having a hierarchical society with a hereditary king, the Great Sun. This societal structure collided with the French, who saw the land around the Natchez Bluffs as strategic for establishing control of the Mississippi River Valley and Louisiana.

There were several Natchez uprisings against the French, with the most significant one occurring in 1729. The Natchez launched a well-organized attack, killing most of the French men and taking women and children as slaves. In response, the French sought revenge, leading to further displacement of the Natchez people. Many Natchez escaped to the Chickasaw, who were likely behind the 1729 revolt.

The Chickasaw provided refuge for the Natchez, but this led to further conflict with the French. The Natchez scattered, with some integrating into the Creek Nation, others joining the Cherokee, and some being captured and enslaved by the French. There is evidence that some Natchez settled among the Chickasaw, who built forts and had English traders around them.

By 1736, the French had suffered defeats at the hands of the Chickasaw, causing them to carefully plan another expedition. During this time, the Natchez became less welcome among the Chickasaw due to the ongoing conflicts. Some Natchez fled to South Carolina, integrating with the Catawba and becoming embedded within their society.

In the Cherokee Nation, the Natchez first established themselves in the Overhill Towns. There are places like Tellico River and Natchez Place named after them. By the late 18th century, the Natchez had moved from Hiwassee to other towns like Peachtree and Tomotley, where they maintained a separate cultural identity while integrating into the Cherokee political structure.

During the forced removal period in the 1830s, the Natchez, along with the Cherokee, were relocated to what is now Oklahoma. They settled near the Creek Nation, maintaining close proximity to other displaced tribes. Over time, their traditional practices, such as the Medicine Springs Stomp Ground, influenced the cultural resurgence of the Cherokee.

Throughout these migrations and displacements, the Natchez retained their language and cultural practices, even as they integrated with other tribes. By the end of the 19th century, they were part of the Cherokee political organization but maintained a distinct cultural identity.

This story of the Natchez illustrates the many diverse paths native peoples took, often ending up embedded within other tribes. Their experiences and contributions are an integral part of the larger tribal histories we seek to understand and honor.

Thank you. [Applause]

Even in their escape from Natchez, the Natchez people retained their cultural structures. The French sought to prevent the rise of the Natchez by sending relatives of their leaders into slavery. Despite these efforts, remnants of their organization persisted, making it somewhat difficult for them to integrate fully with other tribes.

In paintings like the one by Peter Phillips, depicting English forts, we see representations of Natchez towns and their significance during this period. This region was crucial in the 18th century, highlighting the importance of the Natchez and other native peoples’ struggles and resilience.

Early descriptions of the Cherokee by the English often noted their size and strength compared to other nations. This physical distinction set them apart. The story of the governor of South Carolina sending the heads of Natchez who killed the Catawba to prove justice had been served shows how distinctive tattoos on their faces identified them as Natchez.

These accounts and artifacts illustrate the enduring legacy of the Natchez and their integration into the Cherokee Nation, reflecting a complex history of displacement, survival, and cultural retention.

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Dr. Brett Riggs – Natchez Tribe Among the Cherokee Nation.

Today, I want to speak with you about other nations embedded within the Cherokee Nation that we often ignore. We don’t typically consider their experiences, and I think it’s important to do so. Take, for example, the Natchez people. We often think of removal as part of a very broad

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