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The Natchez language traces its roots to the southern regions of Mississippi and Louisiana, where it was spoken by the Natchez people. It’s also believed to have been historically used by the Avoyel and Taensa nations. While Natchez is often classified as a language isolate, many linguists and Natchez people alike suggest a certain connection to the Muskogean language family.

In the early 1730s, the French forced the Natchez people out of southern Mississippi and Louisiana. Seeking refuge, they found shelter among the Chickasaw, Muscogee, Cherokee, Kusso and PeeDee tribes, where Natchez descendants can still be found today. Those who sought refuge with the Chickasaw, Muscogee and Cherokee Nations later endured the Trail of Tears, leading them to present-day Oklahoma. Some Natchez were granted refuge in South Carolina prior to the Removal, settling along the Edisto River and intermarrying with Kusso and PeeDee “Settlement Indians.”


In the 1930s, linguist Mary Haas conducted interviews with the last two fluent Natchez speakers, Watt Sam and Nancy Raven, who were residing in Oklahoma. Her invaluable work included documenting stories, grammar, vocabulary, and audio recordings in the Natchez language. This effort, along with language information compiled by John Swanton, General Albert Pike, Albert Gatschet, and insights from Natchez elders, played a crucial role in Natchez language revitalization, as well as with the development of this language course with 7000 Languages. Without their contributions, this language may have faced extinction.

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