- G. Lola Worthington
Native American people and culture that thrived throughout the lower Mississippi region until the 18th century. Approximately nine village townships constituted a nation that was overall peaceable, although altercations with neighbouring tribes occurred. Existence was based on agriculture, and the society was also creatively artistic. Mulberry bark fibre textiles were skilfully woven as clothing, high-quality pottery was produced, and raised earthen mounds were built.
In 1682 the French first encountered and recorded the Natchez as the only advanced North American society based around a monotheistic, theocratic sun cult. Before their civilization declined, the nation practised large-scale devotion to one ruling leader. Maintaining complete and powerful religious authority through devout worship, he maintained an ‘earthly demi-god’ position over his citizens’ lives and property. Known as ‘the Sun’, the ruler required that all available natural resources and labour be devoted to supporting him as head of state. Inhabitants erected high platforms for his living quarters and temples. His authority, authenticated by a high-status priesthood, maintained his divine existence through sophisticated, ritualistic religious practices. Elaborate ceremonies conducted by his priesthood dedicated and sanctioned his elevated status. A central plaza contained his household. A large-scale mound with numerous temples and household buildings held his main temple with its ceremonial fire....