Natchez (American Indians Ready Reference)
Natchez social complexity fascinated early explorers of the Mississippi River as well as later ethnographers and archaeologists. For this reason, much has been written on these Native Americans.
The Natchez occupied an area east of the Mississippi River, centered at modern Natchez, Mississippi. They raised corn, beans, squash, and other crops in addition to hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants. The agricultural surplus permitted a sedentary lifestyle, and their villages impressed European visitors, as did the lavish material culture, both of which were complemented by an elaborate sociopolitical system. Natchez social organization was hierarchical, with numerous low-level positions overseen by the tribal leader, known as the Great Sun. The Great Sun controlled events during peaceful times; however, he relinquished command to a male relative (brother or uncle) in times of war. These ruling titles were inherited, and visitors remarked upon the elaborate funerary rituals (including human sacrifice and burial in mounds) which accompanied the death of one of the leaders.
European contact was initiated with René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle's visit of 1682. By the early 1700's, a French priest was residing in their midst (Jean François Buisson de Saint-Cosme, who was later killed by the Chitimacha), and they received regular visits from Jesuits and other dignitaries, such as Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d’Iberville in 1700, and Penicaut in...
(The entire section is 381 words.)
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