History is Lunch: Grand Village of the Natchez Indians

At noon on Wednesday, February 12, as part of the department’s #HistoryIsLunch series, Tony Boudreaux, Lance Harris, and Vin Steponaitis will present “The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians: Past, Present, Future.”

The trio will discuss recent investigations and new interpretations at the Grand Village site, which was the main ceremonial center of the Natchez during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In November 1729 the Natchez rebelled against the French colonists, killing more than 200 people. The French retaliation forced the Natchez to abandon their homeland.

The significance of that conflict led to a National Park Service grant to the University of Mississippi, which worked with staff at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians to locate features related to the siege and battle. The 128-acre Grand Village site has three visible mounds, but the archaeological survey identified another mound hidden beneath flood deposits.

The mound was indicated on French maps of the time, and Steponaitis, an archaeologist at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, used those historical maps to identify its probable location. Boudreaux, an archaeologist at The University of Mississippi - Ole Miss, used ground-penetrating radar, coring, and excavations to pinpoint it.

“We’ve since been able to establish that the mound was built in two stages and probably completed before the French arrived,” Boudreaux said. “The French wrote that they placed a cannon on top of it during the fight with the Natchez.”

Harris will discuss the plans for the Grand Village, which include expanding the site’s visitor center and museum, adding a pavilion, structures atop the existing mounds, and frameworks showing where missing mounds stood.

Tony Boudreaux is director of the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Mississippi and an associate professor of anthropology. He earned his BA from Mississippi State University, his MA from The University of Alabama, and his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Lance Harris is the director of the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians. He previously served as director of curatorial services within the Louisiana Department of State Museums Division. Harris studied history and anthropology at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Vincas P. Steponaitis is secretary of the faculty, director of the Office of Faculty Governance, and William E. Leuchtenburg Distinguished Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Steponaitis earned his AB from Harvard University and his MA and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

The program will take place in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium in the Two Mississippi Museums--the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum--located at 222 North Street, Jackson. There is no charge to attend. For more information call 601-576-6998 or email cgoodwin@mdah.ms.gov.


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