Who are the Natchitoches American Indians?
Today the name Caddo is applied by the U. S. government collectively to a people that they call a single Tribe, but when they were first known to Europeans, consisted of about 25 Tribes forming 3 or more confederated groups and held themselves entirely separate. The Hasinai, often called Tejas, now called Texas, was the largest of these, they occupied northeast Texas. The Kadohadacho, where the name Caddo comes from, occupied the big bend of the Red River, now in the state of Arkansas. Today the Natchitoches people primarily live in Natchitoches parish, as well as surrounding parishes in the region. Many members continue to live in the Natchitoches historic communities of Campti and Black Lake. Natchitoches Indian Chief Campti is the namesake for the community of Campti in Natchitoches Parish.
See also: Full History by Chief Fred D. Simon
See also: map of the original territory
When was first contact with the French?
In 1686 La Salle made contact with the Hasinai Nation when he was searching for the Mississippi River, The next encounter was in 1700 when Le Moyne d’Iberville sent his brother Bienville and Louis Juchereau de St. Denis into the Caddo country. In 1714 Juchereau Saint-Denis along with 24 Canadians and 30 men of the Natchitoches Nation that had been living with the Acolapissa tribe arrived at the old village of the Natchitoches, they built two buildings to store some of the merchandise that he had brought and left 10 men to guard them, this was the start of Fort Jean Baptiste. The Natchitoches men stayed and rebuilt their village on the island now called the Island of Brevelle. St. Denis went on to the Hasinai Villages and made a profitable trade as a result of his profitable trade St. Denis was appointed Commandant of the Natchitoches Post. (See 1, pg. 59) In a newspaper article dated August 20, 1915 of the Natchitoches Times there is the following entry: “Deed of Donation of Land to Natchitoches Indians, signed by Baron de Carondelet, Lieutenant of LaSalle, 1758 – Land Office. (Land Office is no longer in Natchitoches).
The end of “French and Indian War” was the beginning of the Spanish era. Many smaller Tribes were driven from their homelands east of the Mississippi River not only by the English but also by the larger Tribes that became slavers (those that enslave others) and moved to or through what is now the State of Louisiana, many of these people stayed. Spanish laws had treated the Indians generously, a circumstance they found fortunate as empires changed. “Las Recopilaciones de los Indios” had given Indians the right to settle the king’s lands and had guaranteed them a square league around their villages for tribal use. (9: pg. 88) Spanish Governor Carondelet freed all Louisiana Indians that were slaves in 1794, except the Natchez because of their war. But not all were set free, rich land owners did not wish to lose their free labor and called their Indian slaves Black or Mulatto and made them buy their freedom.
Treaty of 1835
In 1803 the French Government sold their claim on the Louisiana Territory to the United States of America. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act, the US Army then started removing the remaining Tribes that were east of the Mississippi River to the west side it. In 1835 the Kadohadaho Nation was forced to sign a treaty, by threat of war, with the USA Government and forced to leave Louisiana, they thought they were signing away their lands east of the Red River but were told after they signed that they had to leave the USA. That left them only one place to go, the Country of Texas. The Caddos moved to different places at different times. The first to leave looked for new homes in Texas. The last to leave followed Red River to Washita River in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) without entering Texas. All were virtually homeless for the next twenty years.
Today the Natchitoches Tribe is a vibrant community. We contribute to the historical legacy, vibrancy and economic future of Natchitoches Parish. We honor our cultural history, past and present, and maintain a continuous relationship since time immemorial with our lands, waters, plant and animal life. Our Tribal headquarters are in Campti, which is in the vicinity of the original Natchitoches Indian Agency. We continue to live in the lands of our ancestors and honor the covenant that our ancestors had with all of creation by honoring partnerships, building community and working collaboratively with the natural world, state and federal agencies, Tribal governments, Businesses and Community Based Organizations.
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