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Compiled Snow Owl September 2004

A portion of the Old Natchez Trace
Photographer: G. Edward Johnson

Trampled into being by Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians, widened by explorers, frontiersmen, and boatmen, made famous by the travels of Andrew Jackson and the death of Meriwether Lewis, the Natchez Trace is one of America's most historic roads.

Stretching 450 miles between Nashville, Tennessee, and Natchez, Mississippi, the Trace boasts some of the best natural scenery in the Deep South.

The Natchez Nation is a treaty tribe of the federally recognized Muscogee (Creek) Nation with a sovereign traditional government; probably the oldest continually functioning government on Mother Earth...Yes, really.

There are Natchez Communities and people within each of the "Five Civilized Tribes"...and bands or Natchez communities outside of Oklahoma.

Ancient Indian burial ground in Natchez
Inter-tribal Dance at the Louisiana Indian Heritage Association Spring Powwow
Emerald Mound

Near Natchez, Emerald Mound covers almost eight acres, making it the second largest ceremonial mound in the United States.

The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, a ceremonial mound center in Natchez, is overshadowed by the towns antebellum district, yet this National Historic Landmark interprets the 500-year-old history and archeology of the Natchez tribe.


The Natchez Indians were among the last native American groups to inhabit the area now known as southwestern Mississippi.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Natchez Indian culture began around A.D. 700 and lasted until the 1730s when the tribe was dispersed in a war with the French.

Their language, related to the Muskogean language family, indicates that the Natchez Indians probably developed from earlier cultures in the Lower Mississippi River Valley.

The Natchez Indians were successful farmers, growing corn, beans, and squash. They also hunted, fished, and gathered wild plant foods.

Their society, organized into what anthropologists call a chiefdom, was divided into two ranks: nobility and commoners. Membership in one rank or the other was determined by heredity through the female line. This system is called matrilineal descent and was also common among other Native American groups.

The Natchez chief, called Great Sun, inherited his position of leadership from his mothers family.


Moundbuilding was an expression of the complex tribal religion with the mounds serving as bases for sacred buildings. The people of the tribe worked together to construct and maintain the mounds.

The type of mounds built by the Natchez, flat-topped ceremonial mounds, shows the influence of moundbuilding cultures to the north in the Middle Mississippi River Valley.

Only a few high-ranking tribal officials lived at the mound centers on a permanent basis. The people of the tribe, living dispersed over a wide area on family farms, gathered at the mound centers periodically for social and religious activities.

The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians in Natchez, Mississippi, was the site of the Natchez tribes main ceremonial mound center during the early period of French colonization in the Lower Mississippi River Valley.

Construction of the mounds at the Grand Village was done in stages, probably beginning in the 13th century.

The Natchez Indians also constructed Emerald Mound, near Natchez on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Archaeological evidence indicates that Emerald Mound may have been the main ceremonial mound center for the tribe before that status was shifted to the Grand Village sometime prior to the arrival of French explorers in the late 1600s.

Occupied between AD 1250 and 1600, Mississippi's Emerald Mound is the second-largest ceremonial earthwork in the United States

Burial mounds used between A.D. 500 and 800 can also be explored at Boyd Mounds on the Natchez Trace Parkway north of Jackson.


Historical Overview by K.T. (Hutke) Fields,
Principal Peace Chief of the Natchez Nation

The Natchez (Nah'-Chee, Nauche, or W'Nahk'-Chee) Nation, is a precursor and confederator of the "original" Muscogee (Creek) Confederacy. W'Nahk'-Chee means "fast warrior(s)" in the Natchez language.

Prior to the arrival of northern Europeans, and in non-Native terms "in pre-historic times", Natchez Nation stretched from what is now North Carolina to Arkansas.

The traditional government of the ancient nation is still strong and active today; is a treaty tribe of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation; has connections with the Natchez community (State Recognized) in South Carolina; has tribal members and a community in south Georgia; is a corporation within the Sac & Fox and Seminole Nations; has sent legislation to and worked with the Muscogee National Council; and, has requested health care and other status for all it's tribal citizens.

After initial decimation from European contact by virtue of influenza, smallpox, cholera, chicken pox, war and the like, Natchez Nation was embroiled in separative "removals to Indian Territory" with the Muscogee Nation, the Seminole Nation, the Chickasaw Nation, and the Cherokee Nation; some say by advance plan.

Many of the Natchez are currently citizens or eligible for citizenship in these federally recognized nations in addition to their Natchez citizenship. Some Natchez are multi-lingual, speaking a degree of Natchez, and primarily the Cherokee and/or Muscogee languages.

Most have adopted English and the language of the tribe with which they are affiliated. The Natchez language is preserved by tribal members through limited daily use, on audiotape and videotape, carbon cylinders at the University of Michigan, and there is much interpretable data available at the University of Oklahoma Western History Collection.

A Natchez author, Clifford "Gene" Snyder, has compiled and edited the major research on the Natchez people and his work is on record with the Library of Congress.


The primary settlements of the Natchez (Nvce) are presently in the southern half of the Mvskoke reservation and the west central part of the Cherokee reservation in Oklahoma, especially near Braggs, Sourjohn Mountain, Natcheztown (Notchietown @ Gore), and Hulbert.

Natchez families are also to be found among the balance of the Five Civilized Tribes including the Seminole and Chickasaw. Smaller Natchez communities and settlements may be found in and throughout the southeast and as far north as North Carolina.

There is a recognizable Natchez Community in Georgia.


The Natchez have a traditional form of government dating back VERY LONG before European contact. It can be considered the oldest continually functioning government on the face of the earth.

Four primary or principal clan mothers "vlektv etske" represent their own and related clans are responsible for maintaining continuity of the tribe and all judicial functions.

Principal Clan Mothers are also referred to as "Law Keepers" (etske osten vhvkv nvkvfvstv). The Natchez are called a four-mother nation because the principal clan mothers are considered to be the "four mothers"of the people.

Tribal affairs are managed by the "Ucunv Cunv Yvmvsee" (Principal Peace Chief), who is also the Cunv Uvsel (Great Sun) and the "Ucunv Cunv Tvstunvke" (Principal War Chief). Tvstvnuke means right or "right hand" in the Muscogee Language.

The Principal War Chief is sometimes referred to as First Warrior or Second Chief. The two work in harmony and are selected by virtue of their traits and expertise for lifetime appointments, as are the clan mothers.

Among the duties of the peace chief are maintaining internal affairs and calling together the "council of suns" or a "Great Council of the Suns". The Council of Suns is the ultimate decision making body of the tribe and include all that have received adult names (the suns); it includes leaders of associated tribes.

The true Muscogee (Creek) Nation is an ancient and venerated confederacy of tribes and "tribal towns". It has, for eons, been made up of separate and sovereign towns, tribes and Indian nations.

When non-Indians first encountered a number of these closely related tribes, they nick-named the peoples "Creek" because they lived in the close proximity of creeks and rivers.

When different cultures come into contact, there is often conflict. The contact between the United States of America and the Muscogee Nation has been a continuing historic tragedy.

The United States Government broke treaties, which were to serve and protect the sovereigns of the Muscogee Confederacy. Native Americans of the Muscogee Confederacy have been victimized by the broader society for over 500 years.

A treaty was entered into by a single chief in which all the Muscogee states would "preserve their integrity" by ceding their land in the southeast and relocating to "Indian Territory". Said chief (McIntosh) was, by virtue of traditional Muscogee law, expediently executed for treason.

The Principal Chiefs of that time envoyed to Washington, D.C. to correct the problem - to no avail. Though the treaty was not agreed upon by the grand council of chiefs and the principal chiefs, the tribes and states of the entire Muscogee (Creek) Nation eventually signed other treaties and were forcibly removed from their homelands to "Indian Territory" at the great cost of nearly ten thousand (10,000) lives.

Through, and possibly as a reaction to adversities, strong traditional relationships have been maintained in the tribal groups and communities.

Many of the communities, tribal towns and nations continue to maintain themselves culturally and/or governmentally and remain an integral part of the now federally recognized Muscogee Nation; e.g. Kialegee Etvlwv, Yuchi - of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Natchez Nation - of the Cherokee and Creek Nations; a sovereign by virtue of treaties of 1796, 1833 & 1866 - - - (Harjo vs. Andrus case, 74-189 - U.S. District Court, Washington, D.C. and/or Harjo v Kleppe), Hitchiti, Alabamu-Quassarte, Thlopthlocco and many others.

Of the more than forty-four (44) of these communities, there remain at least 20 in existence today; at their own behest or by virtue of their trust relationship with the United States of America.

In fact, a band of Muscogee citizens who escaped to Mexico during removal (1830's - 1860's) are still intact and maintain a land-base there. The cultures, traditions and languages of the people remain as a testimony to their resilience and determination.


Quite some time ago, someone emailed me the following. Not only do I not recall who sent it to me, but I have no idea who to credit for its compilation. So, if the original author sees this, and wishes to have him or herself credited, please let me know; or if they wish it removed, we shall do that as well. Thanks Snow Owl

It has been brought to our attention that the the particular set of words in the list below is taken  from "Ethnological Position of the Natchez Indians", by John R. Swanton 1908. Published in American Anthropologist, vol. 9, 1908.

NOTE: Thank you, K.T. "Hutke" Fields, Ucenv Cunv Uvsel, Principal Peace Chief,  Natchez Nation, for taking the time to give us the information to properly credit the word list  below.

We would like to acknowledge and thank Clifford Gene Snyder, an enrolled Natchez, for compiling and editing the major research on the Natchez in his book, "THE NATCHEZ AND TAENSA INDIANS" , (a collection of History and Cultural Studies), Jes Co, 1994. ~Stone Woman

The Natchez language is an older but close relative of the Muscogee (Creek) Language...and is rarely spoken except in a ceremonial context. 


Atasha  War-Club Atasha War-Club
Yanasa   Bison Yanasa Bison
kue'h   Opossum Kue'h Opossum
Pakachilu   war leader Pakachilu war leader
hash old Ahassi old
i'ta, int, tooth Nuti, inoti tooth 
hinta now hi ntis now
kuash luminary hasi luminary
kus gus to give kus to give
kets to break kats to break
ha'k (au) tobacco ha'k (soma) tobacco
hesh navel hash (iwa) navel
kono kunu crooked, bent kun (hi) crooked, bent
kush to comb kash, kas to comb, shave
kolom a hollow kolo'k(bi) a hollow
kut to scratch, shave, scrape a skin, kut, kot to clip, cut, saw off
et house huti house, home
ishi tail hadishi tail
we'h roar of water, dogbark wux roar of water, bark of dog
en fish nana fish
oho to cough or grunt oho to cough
isox(u) lecherous hoso'k (li) lecherous
anana-i bullfrog hano'ni bullfrog
icha'kst  frog shukati frog
o'wi quail kowai'(kl) quail
u'wa ua cane koha, koa cane
ush duck fudso, fucho duck
mak to say mak to say, command
(ok)tu'l eye tu'l (ua) eye
(uk)tu'l  mem to tan mai and ma to tan
wit day nita day
unu berry Ani small berry, fruit
ma'ha (gi) plentifully mahi greatly, intense
poyi to boil apux (le) to boil
abo's(ka) pes pe'l to sweep pas to brush, sweep
paka to float paka(ka) to float
pet to spread out Pat to spread out
pakpak(u)  a large woodpecker bukhbagh(ki) a large woodpecker
chocho'is(ki) a martin Chuchu(ke) a martin
puf to blow pof puf to blow
chomot a hill Chopo'k(si) hill
pi to whip bi to whip, beat
chuf to spit tuf to spit
sawi(s) locust sowi'sowi locust
chu to suck Chu tsu to suck
si'le slippery elm shi'lo slippery elm
sha deer ichu, itchi deer
si'cha dew si'cho, si'chi dew
to tu to pound, beat to (nafas) I bruise
ta to strike ta to cut off
tok dot, blotch toko(li) dot, blotch, spotted
tisha to sneeze (hak)tish(kida) to sneeze
tu'l tol to push tul(as) I cut down or push
na'l stinging na'la stinging
ladsh soft (like ripe fruit) luats(ki), lowats(ki) soft (ripe fruit)
nash, noch throat nok neck
ne'hkwa nek'a oil, fat, grease niha, nia oil, fat, grease
lapap straight lapo't(ki) straight
lepe(p) to stick to lapa(chi), lapa(le) to stick to
lep limber liba(ti) limber
han ha to do or to make hai or ha to do or to make
ma(gup) truth, it is so (o)m(as);mun(go) I am so; not so
ma(nawa) the same, this same one ma(tawa) one  the same this same one
ma(gupai) nor, or mon(kat) nor, or
ma(gup) and mam(i'k) and
ma(gupu) no more mam(o'sin) no more
mom(sin) ma(naa) that is it ma(tis) that is it
ma(na) there ma mami man there
ma(no'k) also ma'o,mo(k), mo(ok) also
hucha hocha right, straight facha right, straight
hap to bite kap to bite
kimpa to eat a variety pa to eat many things
kin to eat one thing impa to eat one thing
untchaheluis to accompany    
eleke acorn    
yawishtek across    
tuwa nayakus afternoon    
latashi all    
makup hayuhana alligator    
ahala arm    
tchidsi baby    
puhs ball    
antsigish basket    
kwashiu beads    
tchokop bear    
emet beaver    
yatcha before    
makup aipanuwa to believe    
isopotcha between    
liikip big    
hepilokup blanket    
kunahal bow (for arrows)    
taminu boy    
wana brother    
wahi ish camp    
taya-a to carry    
otochamkop cheerful    
tsuna chief    
oyitcha to cook    
haku corn    
tama'l hankwal nish daughter    
itihia door    
noa-eshias to dream    
hagwalish to eat    
ipis nisa father    
kinhashkush food    
holinu girl    
sektaka glad    
izha hand    
abuya head    
kweyakoopsel hill    
kuaya ice/snow    
mumu jug, bottle    
nutch'halis to laugh    
heleksenis life/spirit    
hamiya ka-awa'h a long time ago    
wintchia meat    
putkup mountain    
kwa'l no    
isiwata panther    
lewe-ik peace    
ekwenu opossum    
inuku'l raccoon    
ula tchu'hna rattlesnake    
kuashneshkup to run    
wai salt    
alkahats shirt    
alawatch sister    
pentsia to sit    
wita sky    
Na'htchi ihiwe'ltagik I speak Natchez.    
Suul-uh spider    
wayeihakis to stop    
hepnagik to swim    
olo terrapin/turtle    
ayumf hakis tomahawk    
kuenaya tomorrow    
awe'h uncle    
kunh kas'hifsi wall    
sepseptaka to whisper    
wifneluk wind    
tama'l woman    
tamuya yesterday    


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