Natchez Country

Indians, Colonists, and the Landscapes of Race in French Louisiana

Title Details

Pages: 312

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 03/15/2015

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4750-9

List Price: $32.95


Pub Date: 03/15/2015

ISBN: 9-780-8203-4749-3

List Price: $114.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Natchez Country

Indians, Colonists, and the Landscapes of Race in French Louisiana

The Natchez, the French, and the development of racial consciousness among native peoples

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  • Description
  • Reviews

At the dawn of the 1700s the Natchez viewed the first Francophones in the Lower Mississippi Valley as potential inductees to their chiefdom. This mistaken perception lulled them into permitting these outsiders to settle among them. Within two decades conditions in Natchez Country had taken a turn for the worse. The trickle of wayfarers had given way to a torrent of colonists (and their enslaved Africans) who refused to recognize the Natchez’s hierarchy. These newcomers threatened to seize key authority-generating features of Natchez Country: mounds, a plaza, and a temple. This threat inspired these Indians to turn to a recent import—racial categories—to reestablish social order. They began to call themselves “red men” to reunite their polity and to distance themselves from the “blacks” and “whites” into which their neighbors divided themselves. After refashioning their identity, they launched an attack that destroyed the nearby colonial settlements. Their 1729 assault began a two-year war that resulted in the death or enslavement of most of the Natchez people.

In Natchez Country, George Edward Milne provides the most comprehensive history of the Lower Mississippi Valley and the Natchez to date. From La Salle’s first encounter with what would become Louisiana to the ultimate dispersal of the Natchez by the close of the 1730s, Milne also analyzes the ways in which French attitudes about race and slavery influenced native North American Indians in the vicinity of French colonial settlements on the Mississippi River and how Native Americans in turn adopted and resisted colonial ideology.

Milne's Natchez Country expertly elucidates the tangled relationships between the self-described red men whose country was ruled by the sun and the incomers who were subjects of the Sun King.

—Karen Ordahl Kupperman, author of The Atlantic in World History

George Milne's book offers not only an ambitiously researched and vigorously argued reinterpretation of Natchez-French relations in colonial Louisiana but also plenty of guidance and insight for scholars working on other regions of conflict and exchange in early American history.

—Daniel H. Usner, Jr., author of Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy: The Lower Mississippi Valley before 1783

Milne analyzes Natchez behavior after French intrusion into their multicultural, pyramidal chiefdom. [He] provides a needed description of an evolving chiefdom, the French polity of Louisiana, the emergence of racial designations as a formative concept replacing identity based on sacred mounds, and the destruction of the Natchez as an ethnic group.

—G. Gagnon, Choice

The early encounters of French and Native peoples have been mostly described as a ‘middle ground,’ a place of exchange, intermingling, and cohabitation free of violence, but this work sheds light on one of the exceptions to this ‘standard’ French colonial experience in North America. . . . This academic work can introduce general readers to a wide range of subjects across disciplines, including French colonial diplomacy, law, race, slavery, and violence, as well as native cultures in the Southeast during the eighteenth century.

—Sonia Toudji, Arkansas Historical Quarterly

This excellent work provides a fascinating account of the forces that caused the Natchez to fashion a ‘red’ identity.

—F. Todd Smith, Journal of American History

Milne’s deep contextualization of competing spatial understandings in the Natchez country is powerful, and his move to connect these themes to his larger history of racial formation is quite creative. In addition, the book is nicely written, making even the most theoretical aspects of the argument clear and easy to follow. It is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the Natchez, the events of 1729, and the history of race in early America.

—American Historical Review

About the Author/Editor

GEORGE EDWARD MILNE is associate professor of early American history at Oakland University.