Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 39.djvu/213

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THE NATCHEZ INDIANS.

gress at Paris, in 1887, decided to photograph, the whole sky down to stars of the fourteenth magnitude. Could this enterprise have borne all the fruits it has if the planets of the thirteenth magnitude had been let pass unperceived?

For all these reasons, I think that the search for minor planets ought to be continued. It demands, indeed, considerable work in calculation; but that can be divided among several scientific establishments. The Bureau of Longitudes is disposed to do its part in the matter. — Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Scientifique.


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THE NATCHEZ INDIANS.

By HOWARD A. GIDDINGS.

THE Natchez were the ancient head of the demi-civilized people inhabiting that part of America called Florida by the first discoverers. It is evident, from the historians of De Soto's expedition, that a state of society prevailed among this people very different from that of their neighbors. The Natchez can not properly be classed as North American Indians; differing widely from all other tribes in language, customs, and condition, they seemed in most respects like another race. They came originally from Mexico, and closely resembled the Aztecs, both in appearance and habits. Possessing none of the roving disposition common to the savage, their houses, furniture, and domestic implements were comparatively comfortable and convenient. We are told that their houses were gathered together into towns, and resembled farm-houses in Spain, being surrounded with bake-houses, granaries, etc., showing a nation no longer in the hunter state, but attached to the soil, with all the corresponding effects of a life advanced a step toward civilization.

Their houses were nearly always a perfect square. They constructed them by bringing from the woods young trees about fifteen feet in length and four inches in diameter, which they planted in the ground fifteen inches apart, the strongest at the four corners; the tops being bent inward to the center and fastened with split canes. The chinks in the walls were filled up with a mortar of mud mixed with a tufted herb called Spanish beard, leaving no opening but the door. The roof was thatched with turf and straw, and over all was plaited a mat of split canes; the walls were covered both inside and out with mats of the same material. With occasional repairs these buildings lasted twenty years.

The Natchez lived under a despotic government, and it is but