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The Natchez

On February 11th, 1700, De Iberville, Bienville, Perricaul and Tonti ascended the Mississippi River as far west as the present city of Natchez. They were kindly received (so states the journalist) by the great chief, or sun, as he was termed, surrounded by six hundred of his warriors, who, according to their own account, had formerly been a great nation. On the 13th the party left Natchez and visited the villages of the Taensas, the customs and habits of who were the same as the Natchez, being evidently a branch of the latter. During their stay the sacred temple of these Indians was struck by lightning and burned to ashes. To appease the Sun God, the poor, infatuated women threw themselves, and parents, their children, into the consuming flames of the burning temple. Perricaul, who was one of the witnesses of the fearful scene, thus wrote of it: “We left the Natchez and coasted along to the right, where the river is bordered with high, gravelly banks for a distance of twelve leagues. At the extremity of these bluffs is a place called Petit Gulf, on account of the whirlpool formed by the river for the distance of a quarter league. Eight leagues higher up we came to Grand Gulf, which we passed a short distance above, on the right hand side. We landed to visit a village four leagues in the interior. These Indians are called the Taensas. We were well received, but I never saw a more sad sight, frightful and revolting spectacle than that which happened the second day, 16th of April, after our arrival in...

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