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|The Ofo at Natchez|
By SMOKYE JOE FRANK
The Ofogoula Indians, a small Indian tribe that formerly resided on the Yazoo River, were brought to the fort at Natchez by Jean-Baptiste LeMoyne de Bienville to provide food and hunt down the Natchez Indians that remained in the Natchez area.
After the massacre of the French by the Natchez in 1729, the Koroa and Yazoo Indians destroyed the French at Fort St. Pierre on the Yazoo River, located in the vicinity of Vicksburg, Mississippi. The Ofo, friends of the French and neighbors of the Koroa and Yazoo abandoned their village and moved down the Mississippi River and moved in with the Tunica Indians, who also were close allies with the French.
An anonymous map of the fort at Natchez in December 1731, shows huts of savages under the cannons of the fort.
In 1732, Bienville had the Ofo relocated to a position near Fort Rosalie to provide services previously provided by the Natchez tribe. As early as 1733, the Ofo were in pursuit of the Natchez, near the vicinity of the fort at Natchez. The Ofo and several Choctaw Indians, allies of the French, were scouting the lands around the post and encountered several large Natchez Indian vegetable fields and one Natchez working in the field a day and a half trek from the Natchez post. They killed the Natchez, took his head, but retreated as the shot alerted the Natchez warriors in their village.
A map by Marigay in 1743 clearly shows the Ofo at Fort Natchez.
By 1748, the Ofo village at the Natchez Fort was so small the Ofo were unable to provide any protection for the fort. M. de Vaudreuil recruited 60 Tunica Indians to protect the fort and hunt on the adjacent side of the Mississippi River. There were only six Ofo men remaining at the Natchez Fort in 1750. The Chickasaw tribe, enemies of the French, continued to harass the post at Natchez and one night in July, 1754 assaulted the Ofo village and made off with six Ofo women and one old Tunica male.
During this time there were 50 French troops at Natchez, excluding the officers guarding river and overland travel to protect French voyagers.
In 1758, the small group of Ofo still remained under the cannons of the fort. After the French abandoned the Natchez Fort in 1763, the Ofo migrated to the Tunica village south of Natchez in the Tunica Hills near Angola, Louisiana. The Ofo eventually were assimilated by the Tunica Indians and some members of the Tunica tribe at Marksville can trace their lineage to the Ofo.
(Joseph "Smokye Joe" Frank is an archaelogist who resides in Natchez. He can be reached at email@example.com.)
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