Natches, Gallatin in Trans. and Coll. Am. Antiq. Soc., II, 95,
806, 1836 (Natches only). Prichard, Phys. Hist. Mankind, V, 402,
Natsches, Berghaus (1845), Physik. Atlas, map 17, 1848. Ibid.,
Natchez, Bancroft, Hist. U.S., 248, 1840. Gallatin in Trans. Am.
Eth. Soc., II, pt. 1, xcix, 77, 1848 (Natchez only). Latham, Nat.
Hist. Man, 340, 1850 (tends to include Taensas, Pascagoulas,
Colapissas, Biluxi in same family). Gallatin in Schoolcraft, Ind.
Tribes, III, 401, 1853 (Natchez only). Keane, App. Stanford’s Comp.
(Cent, and So. Am.), 460, 473, 1878 (suggests that it may include
Naktche, Gatschet, Creek Mig. Legend, I, 34, 1884. Gatschet in
Science, 414, April 29, 1887.
Taensa, Gatschet in The Nation, 383, May 4, 1882. Gatschet in Am.
Antiq., IV, 238, 1882. Gatschet, Creek Mig. Legend, I, 33, 1884.
Gatschet in Science, 414, April 29, 1887 (Taensas only).
The Na´htchi, according to Gallatin, a residue of the well-known
nation of that name, came from the banks of the Mississippi, and
joined the Creek less than one hundred years ago.71
The seashore from Mobile to the Mississippi was then inhabited by
several small tribes, of which the Na´htchi was the principal.
Before 1730 the tribe lived in the vicinity of Natchez, Miss., along
St. Catherine Creek. After their dispersion by the French in 1730
most of the remainder joined the Chicasa and afterwards the Upper
Creek. They are now in Creek and Cherokee Nations, Indian Territory.
The linguistic relations of the language spoken by the
Taensa tribe have long been in doubt, and it is probable that
they will ever remain so. As no vocabulary or text of this language
was known to be in existence, the “Grammaire et vocabulaire de la
langue Taensa, avec textes traduits et commentés par J. D. Haumonté,
Parisot, L. Adam,” published in Paris in 1882, was received by
American linguistic students with peculiar interest. Upon the
strength of the linguistic material embodied in the above Mr.
Gatschet (loc. cit.) was led to affirm the complete linguistic
isolation of the language.
Grave doubts of the authenticity of the grammar and vocabulary have,
however, more recently been brought forward.72
The text contains internal evidences of the fraudulent character, if
not of the whole, at least of a large part of the material. So
palpable and gross are these that until the character of the whole
can better be understood by the inspection of the original
manuscript, alleged to be in Spanish, by a competent expert it will
be far safer to reject both the vocabulary and grammar. By so doing
we are left without any linguistic evidence whatever of the
relations of the Taensa language.
D’Iberville, it is true, supplies us with the names of seven Taensa
towns which were given by a Taensa Indian who accompanied him; but
most of these, according to Mr. Gatschet, were given, in the Chicasa
trade jargon or, as termed by the French, the “Mobilian trade
jargon,” which is at least a very natural supposition. Under these
circumstances we can, perhaps, do no better than rely upon the
statements of several of the old writers who appear to be unanimous
in regarding the language of the Taensa as of Na´htchi connection.
Du Pratz’s statement to that effect is weakened from the fact that
the statement also includes the Shetimasha, the language of which is
known from a vocabulary to be totally distinct not only from the
Na´htchi but from any other. To supplement Du Pratz’s testimony,
such as it is, we have the statements of M. de Montigny, the
missionary who affirmed the affinity of the Taensa language to that
of the Na´htchi, before he had visited the latter in 1699, and of
Father Gravier, who also visited them. For the present, therefore,
the Taensa language is considered to be a branch of the Na´htchi.
The Taensa formerly dwelt upon the Mississippi, above and close to
the Na´htchi. Early in the history of the French settlements a
portion of the Taensa, pressed upon by the Chicasa, fled and were
settled by the French upon Mobile Bay.
Population.—There still are four
Na´htchi among the Creek in Indian Territory and a number in the
Cheroki Hills near the Missouri border.
Indian Linguistic Families of America North of Mexico, 1891