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“Another Race of White Men Come Amongst Us”: Native American Views as British Replace the French in the Lower Mississippi Valley, 1765

Because most early-eighteenth century European colonization occurred in coastal areas, Native Americans living in interior regions maintained greater control over their lands and culture. In the lower Mississippi Valley (as in the Great Lakes region), the contest between European imperial rivals for control of North America strengthened the natives’ hand. No group—European or Indian—held sovereign power, and diplomatic, military, trading, and social exchanges continued for much of the eighteenth century. But the treaties that concluded the Seven Years’ War and ended French colonization of North America changed that situation. The lower Mississippi valley was partitioned between the British colony of West Florida and the Spanish colony of Louisiana. Native occupants perceived the dramatic consequences as Alibamon Mingo, elderly leader of the Choctaw nation, indicated in his meetings with the British in Mobile in 1765. Mingo remembered the French fondly and spoke of his expectations of fair trade and just treatment from the British.

When I was Young the White Men came amongst us bearing abundance along with them, I took them by the hand & have ever remained firm to my Engagements, in return all my wants & those of my Warriors & Wives & Children have been Bountyfully Supplied. I now See another Race of White Men Come amongst us bearing the Same abundance, & I expect they will be equally Bountyfull which must be done if they wish equally to gain the affection of my people.

I and my Men have used the Guns of France these Eighty Winters Back, I wish I was Young to try the English Guns & English Powder both of which I hope will flourish & rejoice the Heart of the Hunters thro' the Land and Cover the Nakedness of the Women.

With respect to the Land I was not Consulted in it, if I was to deliver my Sentiments evil disposed People might impute it to Motives very different from those which actuate me, it is true the Land belonged chiefly to those who have given it away; that the Words which were Spoken have been written with a Lasting Mark, the Superintendant marks every word after word as one would count Bullets so that no variation can happen, & therefore the words have been Spoken and the eternal marks traced I will not Say anything to contradict, but, on the Contrary Confirm the Cession which has been made. What I have now to Say on that head is, to wish that all the Land may be Settled in four years that I may See it myself before I die.

I Listned to all the parts of the Talks and Liked them exceeding well, except that part from the Superintendant, where he reported that those Medal Chiefs who did not behave well Should be broke & their Medals given to others. The Conversation I have held with Faver, in private, has rung every Night in my Ear, as I laid my Head on the bear Skin & as I have many Enemies in the Nation, I dreamed I should be the Person, which would break my heart in my Old Age, to Loose the Authority I have so long held.

I cannot Immagine the Great King could Send the Superintendant to deceive us. In case we deliver up our French Medals & Commissions we expect to receive as good in their place, and that we Should bear the Same Authority & be entitled to the Same presents, If you wish to Serve your Old Friends you may give New Medals & Commissions & presents, but the worthy cannot bear to be disgraced without a fault, Neither will the Generous Inflict a Punishment without a Crime.

There was one thing I would mention tho' it cannot concern myself, & that is the Behaviour of the traders towards our Women, I was told of old by the Creeks & Cherokees, wherever the English went they caused disturbances for they lived under no Government and paid no respect either to Wisdom or Station. I hoped for better things, that those Old Talks had no truth in them. One thing I must report which has happened within my own knowledge, that often when the Traders sent for a Basket of Bread & the Generous Indian sent his own wife to Supply their wants instead of taking the Bread out of the Basket they put their hand upon the Breast of their Wives which was not to be admitted, for the first maxim in our Language is that Death is preferable to disgrace.

I am not of opinion that in giving Land to the English, we deprive ourselves of the use of it, on the Contrary, I think we shall share it with them, as for Example the House I now Speak in was built by the White people on our Land yet it is divided between the White & the Red people. Therefore we need not be uneasy that the English Settle upon our Lands as by that means they can more easily Supply our wants.

Source: Mississippi Dept. of Archives and History, Mississippi Provincial Archives: English Dominion, compiled and edited by Dunbar Rowland (Nashville, Tenn: Brandon Printing Co., 1911), 240–41.