But these 3 Indian tribes were not the first humans to settle in this region. Archeological evidence has found in the many ceremonial mounds and village sites on the Trace, human habitation and remains which date back as long ago as 8000 years. Indian burial grounds called mounds still exist along the Trace. Indians were buried in these hill shaped graves, often a whole tribe together. Pottery, beads, and weapons were also buried in the graves.
These tribes continued to use the trail up until the time that the white European settlers of the new United States began forging west to claim the lands. Between 1699, when the French first arrived on the Mississippi gulf coast, to 1733, they had explored the area well enough to draw a map. The map showed an Indian trail running from Natchez to the Choctaw villages near present day Jackson, Mississippi, and then on to the Chickasaw villages in the northeastern part of the state. At this time the southern portion of the Natchez Trace was known as the "Path to the Choctaw Nation", while the northern part of the Trace was called "Chickasaw Trace". The word "trace" is an old French word which meant a line of footprints or animal tracks. This is the first known use of the word "trace" being used to describe the trail. French traders, missionaries, and soldiers traveled over the old Indian trade route during this time.
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