Elizabeth N. Ellis
Barra Postdoctoral Fellow
“The Many Ties of the Petites Nations: Relationships, Power, and Diplomacy in the Lower Mississippi Valley 1685-1785”
Liz’s project explores the experiences of the gulf coast’s small Indigenous polities, or “petites nations” at the French colonists called them, during the eighteenth century. Unlike many of the larger Indian nations of the Southeast, these petites nations did not coalesce or confederate into larger nations during the eighteenth century. Rather, by relying on a variety of economic and political strategies, these nations constructed extensive alliance networks that sometimes enabled them to preserve their territories and political independence. Her work examines the interactions among these petites nations, including the Chitimachas, Tunicas, Bayagoulas, Houmas, Ofogoulas, Tensas, and Biloxis, and their relationships with larger Native polities and the French, Spanish, British, and African peoples who settled in Louisiana. Her analysis focuses on petites nations peoples’ efforts to use labor, diplomacy, and political warfare to protect their homelands and preserve their nations.