Located on the United States/Spanish border, by 1804 Natchitoches was the third most important settlement in the Louisiana Purchase after New Orleans and St. Louis. Within months of the official transfer of Louisiana to American rule, a military detachment was sent to Natchitoches to establish an American presence on the frontier. The President of the United States soon appointed a civilian to serve as an ambassador to Native American nations in the region.
Natchitoches had been an important trading center under the Spanish and its importance continued under the Americans. In 1807 alone, Native Americans from 24 different tribes came to trade at the factory and / or meet with the government agent. In 1808 the Natchitoches factory shipped to New Orleans over 32,000 lbs. of deer skins that it obtained from the tribes through trade.
John Sibley, the first agent at Natchitoches, worked hard to establish good relations with not only the Native Americans in Louisiana but also through his friendship with Dehahuit, the great Caddo Chief, and with an number of tribes residing in Texas much the chagrin of the Spanish. In 1807 over 320 members from ten Texas tribes attended a Grand Council at Natchitoches hosted by Sibley.
Through Dehahuit's and Sibley's efforts most of the Texas and Louisiana tribes remained neutral
during the armed confrontation between the Americans and the Spanish on the frontier. In the end, most of the tribes would cede or sell their land in Louisiana and move west. But small native American communities still reside in Louisiana today including several in northwest Louisiana.
Did you Know?
· The present-day City of Natchitoches was named for Natchitoches, a tribe of the Caddo Federation. Today "Natchitoches" is generally translated as the "Place of the Paw Paw" or the "Paw Paw People" by scholars and the Caddo Nation alike.
· The Natchitoches were the southernmost Caddoan peoples. The Caddo homeland comprised the Red River Valley of east Texas, northern Louisiana, southern Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.
· In 1804, American Indians traded deer hides totaling 32,000 lbs (equivalent to 4,000 deer hides or 152 muskets) to the American factory at Natchitoches.
· That Lacrosse was modified from the American Indian game of stickball?
· The Cane River Lake used to be part of the main channel of the Red River? When the great log jam was finally removed in the late 1800s the Red river shifted course and left Natchitoches next to an ox-box lake.