Natchez Historical Society: Meeting topic Natchez Diplomacy 1540-1730

Published 4:13 pm Saturday, March 16, 2024

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It’s a natural tendency for us to think of our own times and the times proximately preceding them as the boundaries of our historical existence. In that sense, we can be time-bound and inhibited from more fully understanding the origins of the historical conditions in which we live. Likewise, it’s natural for us to think of our history as relatively limited to the history of our fore-bearers of the same ethnicity or geographical origins. But, it can be expanding our minds, hearts, and understanding to reach beyond these familiar categories of historical interest to far earlier times and people far different from ourselves.

That’s what’s in store for us at the Natchez Historical Society’s upcoming monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 26. The subject will be: “Natchez Diplomacy, 1540-1730.” And, the speaker will be a perennially favorite scholar to Natchez, Dr. Max Grivno, Associate Professor of History at The University of Southern Mississippi, and Editor of “The Southern Quarterly.”

In the decades after De Soto’s first European penetration of this region, the indigenous Natchez people negotiated a new treacherous world. Wars, pandemics, and mass migrations caused Mississippian chiefdoms to collapse, while groups of refugees coalesced into new confederacies. At the same time, European empires began displacing native peoples on the eastern seaboard and the Gulf Coast, adding to the socio-political instability of the world of the indigenous.

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Dr. Grivno’s presentation will examine how the Natchez wrestled with these changes diplomatically. He will look at Natchez diplomacy with other native peoples and the Natchez attempts to secure alliances with the encroaching European empires, while all the while attempting to maintain their own economic and political independence.

Dr. Grivno’s presentation promises to reveal to us a fascinating period of human conflict and survival far earlier than our post-American Revolution settlement period. We live today in Natchez on the grounds of that earlier history. Let’s feel its presence, albeit so distant from us now.

The meeting will be at the Historic Natchez Foundation, 108 S. Commerce St., in Natchez. The social begins at 5:30 p.m., with the program at 6 p.m. There is no charge for admission. All are welcome, members and non-members, alike.

The Historical Society’s programs are partly funded by a generous grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

ALAN WOLF is a director of the Natchez Historical Society and its program chair.