Natchez Indian Chiefs and Leaders

Grand Soleil (French: ‘Great Sun’). The title of a noted Natchez chief, whose individual name is unknown, in the first half of the 18th century. He was a friend of the whites until the French commandant demanded the site of his village, White Apple, situated a few miles s. w. of the present Natchez, Miss., which the Natchez had occupied, as their chief replied, for more years than there were hairs in the governor’s peruke. The haughty commandant, Chopart, would not allow them to have even their growing crops until it was agreed to compensate him for the concession. The chief then sent out bundles of sticks to the Natchez villages to indicate, ostensibly, their quota of the promised tribute, but really the number of days that were to elapse before making a concerted attack on the French. The docile and submissive Natchez were not suspected, even though a Natchez woman warned the French officers. On Nov. 30, 1729, the Indians massacred every white person in the settlement, 700 in number, and with his allies the Grand Soleil went on laying waste French plantations in Louisiana until the governor of the French colony assembled a force of French and Choctaw with which he recaptured the fort at Natchez. Then the chief ostensibly agreed to terms of peace that were offered, but in the night he and his people disappeared in different directions. One division he led 180 miles up Red r., where he built a fort and an expedition found him a year later. His warriors sallied out to attack the French, who drove them back into the fort and bombarded them there until the great chief and some others surrendered themselves. The chief was taken to New Orleans and probably executed with most of his warriors, while the women and children who did not die of an epidemic that befell them were transported to Haiti to labor as slaves on the French plantations. The title “Great Sun” was always borne by the head chief of the Natchez to distinguish him from other members of the class of nobles, all of whom were called “Suns.”

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Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Frederick Webb Hodge, 1906

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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