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Yazoo Indians



A small tribe formerly living on the lower course of Yazoo River, Mississippi, in close connection with several other tribes, the most important of which was the Tonica. Nothing is definitely known concerning their language, but it seems to have been akin to that of the Tonica, although not the same. In 1699 Father Antone Davion, of the Quebec Seminary of Foreign Missions, established a mission among the Tonica, giving attention also to the other allied tribes. The Yazoo, however, like the Chickasaw were under the influence of the English traders from Carolina, and in 1702 aided the Koroa in the murder of Father Nicholas Foucault and three French companions while asleep; as a result Father Davion was temporarily withdrawn. In 1718 the French established near the village a fort (St. Pierre) to command the river. In 1722 the young Jesuit Father Jean Rouel undertook the Yazoo mission, in the neighbourhood of the French post. Here he remained until the outbreak of the Natchez war in 1729, when the Yazoo and Koroa joined sides with the Natchez. On 28 November the Natchez suddenly attacked the French garrison in their country (Natchez, Miss.), slaughtering several hundred persons, including the Jesuit Father Paul Du Poisson, and carrying off most of the women and children. On learning of the event the Yazoo and Koroa, on 11 December, 1729, waylaid and killed Father Rouel near his cabin together with his negro servant, who attempted to defend him, and the next day attacked the neighbouring post, killing the whole garrison. Father Rouel's body was respected, and a captive French woman finally persuaded the Indians to give it burial. His bell and some books were afterwards recovered and restored by the Quapaw. The Yazoo shared in the destruction of the Natchez, the remnant fleeing to the Chickasaw and apparently being absorbed finally by the Choctaw.

In general culture they seemed to have differed little form the Tonica, to whom, however, they appear to have been inferior. They buried in the ground, throwing lighted torches into the grave with the corpse and wailing nightly at the spot for several months. They believed in a good and a bad spirit, but prayed only to the bad spirit, on the ground that the other would not injure them anyhow.

DUMONT, Hist. Louisiana, Memoires historiques sur la Louisiane in French Hist. Colls. of La. (New York, 1853); Jesuit Relations, ed. THWAITER (73 vols., Cleveland, 1896-1901).

JAMES MOONEY








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