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South Carolina – Indians, Native Americans – Natchez


South Carolina SC Native Americans SC Indian Tribes SC Natchez Indians


Click here if you are looking for information on the Kusso-Natchez Tribe (today known as the "Edisto Indian Organization").

Name, Language

  • Alternate: Natches, Nah'-Chee, Nauche, W'Nahk-Chee, Notchie, or Nochee. Ani Natsi is the Cherokee name for Natchez.

  • Possible meanings: W'Nahk'-Chee means "fast warrior(s)."

  • Language family: Muskogean and Natchez. They also spoke some Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, and a tribal language that was called a trade language. The Natchez also used the oldest language or Native sign language.

Current Status

  • Active seeking official state recognition as of February 2, 2007.

Contact Information

  • Natchez Tribe of South Carolina
    79 Bluff Road, Olympia Village
    Columbia, SC 29201-4561

    Special thanks to Cunv Davis for confirming and providing much of the information on this page.

SC Location, Territory

  • Traditional: Along the Edisto River near Four Holes area in Colleton and Dorchester counties and locations in Richland and Fairfield counties.

  • Today: Members still live in the Four Holes area and other communities across South Carolina. Tribal Office is headquartered in the Olympia Village area of Columbia, near the Congaree River.

Population Estimates

  • 2007: 130

History

  • The Natchez originally lived near present-day Louisiana but were driven out of their traditional home-land by French colonists. In 1735, a group of Natchez sought refuge in the Edisto area of South Carolina.

  • In 1744, the Natchez left Four Holes, SC fearing retribution by the Catawbas for killing seven members of their tribe.

  • The Natchez sought refuge once again within other local tribes. These combined tribes have remained in the same area of South Carolina since the mid-1700s, calling themselves the Kusso-Natchez.

  • The Natchez originally lived in Mississippi but were forced to leave at the hands of the French and their Native allies.

  • In 1744, it is assumed that the Natchez left the area known as "The Pocket" along the Edisto River in Colleton County because of a history of fights with the Catawba, Waccamaw, and Pee Dee tribes. This is not the case today as the Natchez have a good relationship with the above tribal leaders.

Dwellings

  • Homes: Lodges referred to as longhouse made of a wooden frame and covered with mats made of straw, river reed or bark. Mud was used as a sealer to help keep out the rain. The Natchez would often plant fruit trees, like peach or apple, by their lodges for the fruit and shade.

  • Villages: Villages consisted of individual homes and usually a council house for town meetings.

Food

  • Farming: Beans, corn, gourds, squash, and sunflowers

  • Fishing: Fresh and saltwater fish, crawfish, alligator, turtles, and frog legs

  • Gathering: Nuts, berries, fruits, and herbs

  • Hunting: Bear, beaver, deer, and turkey. Smaller game was taken using blow guns, bow and arrows, snares, and throwing sticks.

Clothing

  • Men: Wore shirts and breechcloths made of either deerskin or the fibers of nettle and mulberry bark as well as leggings of deerskin. The breechcloths were worn in warm months; leggings, moccasins, and a cloak called a "matchcoat" were worn in cold months.

  • Women: Knee-length skirts of deerskin; Natchez women blackened their teeth . Tribal women made their dresses from the fibers of nettle and mulberry bark. The dresses were white and covered the woman from neck to foot. Deerskin dresses were also worn and "matchcoats" similar to those of men in cold months.

  • Most often white clothing was worn during ceremonies. "Matchcoats" were worn in winter by both male and female, which were made from deerskin. Jewelry, worn by all, was made of bone, shells, beads, feathers and metal. Tattooing was the norm for male and female. Though both Natchez men and women would blacken their teeth with a mixture of wood and tobacco ash, traditionally this was done during the mourning of a lost love one. Mostly done by Natchez women for her odds of being left behind by a fallen warrior.

Beliefs and Practices

  • Like most southeastern tribes, the Natchez had a complex belief system that stressed order. Their deities were part of the natural world, with the Sun being the most important.

  • The Natchez People were master craftsmen of bead work, pottery, basket weaving and are known as the great mound builders of the Southeastern United States.

  • In addition to rites of passage and of purification for individuals, the Natchez held large communal ceremonies to mark the seasons and the yearly food cycle. The Natchez calendar year had 13 months.

  • The Green Corn Ceremony was the most important yearly ritual for the Natchez as well as for other Southeastern tribes. It took place in late summer when the corn crop ripened. In preparation homes were cleaned, all food from the previous year was disposed of and all fires were extinguished. The ceremony began with two days of ritual fasting by priests and distinguished men in the center of the village. On the third day a new fire was kindled and the head priest gave a sermon to the entire village. Then preparations for a great feast were made which was consumed on the fourth day followed by singing and dancing. The ceremony was closed by all members of the tribe painting their bodies with white clay and then immersing themselves in water. This ceremony was thought to purify the village and prepare them for the year to come.

  • Ball games, which were widespread among southeastern Native Americans, were played by Natchez men using balls made from boiled tree sap. The games played were based on skills the children would need to learn as they got older. The young boys would play games that helped them learn to track game for a hunt and sharpen their skills as hunters. One such game is known as the hoop game and sharpened the throwing skills. A web hoop would be rolled on a smooth plot of ground. The players would take turns throwing one lance at the hoop, trying to hit the center opening. The count would depend on the size of the hoop and only one throw was allowed.

  • The young girls would play games with their mothers, grandmothers and other women of the tribe. While gathering nuts, berries, herbs or while planting in their gardens, a sickness like a head or toothache would be named. The young Natchez girls would try and name the herb needed to cure the pain. Though hunting, fishing and farming was important for the tribe, being able to care for the sick and weak of the tribe was a hard task that the Natchez women took on with a grace that helped the Natchez live for thousands of years before the Europeans arrived.

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