• 66°

Simmons descended from chief

By By Lydia Grimes – Features writer
Last week I was interviewing Martha Simmons and I noticed a lovely Indian doll sitting on a nearby table. When I asked about it, she told me something of her Indian heritage and I thought you might enjoy it. She is descended from a Natchez Indian chief with the name of Chinnabee.
The French explorer, Sieur de La Salle, took possession of the Mississippi Valley in 1682, claimed it for the French, and named it for the French king, Louis XIV. The Natchez were friendly for some time but they learned that the whites could be deceitful. In 1700 Bienville and Iberville built Ft. Rosalie near the Indian village of White Apple and in time wanted the Indians to move.
Things deteriorated and in 1716, the Natchez had murdered a small number of the French and Bienville set a trap and captured some of the Indian chiefs. They were made to work as slaves for the French and that did not set well with a freedom loving people.
In 1729, when the French wanted to take over the site of White Apple, the Indians asked to stay until harvest time. In the meantime they hatched a plan of attack on the whites but their plans went awry when one of their own warned the French. Stung Arm, an Indian woman who had married a Frenchman, learned the plans and informed the French.
When the day was set for the attack, bundles of sticks of equal numbers were distributed to each Indian village. One stick from each bundle was thrown away each day and when the sticks were gone, that would be the day of the attack.
Stung Arm slipped out each night and destroyed some of the sticks. In this way she hastened the attack day for those in White Apple, while other villages still had all their sticks. On Nov. 28, 1729, the Natchez attacked the French and took captives. The French retaliated and by 1733, there was a horrible massacre of the Natchez men, while women and children were captured and sent to Cuba as slaves. Among those who went to Cuba was Stung Arm.
There were three small bands of Natchez that escaped during the attack. One went west and the other two came to what would become Alabama. One of these groups was led by a young chief named Chinnabee who was blood brothers to the Creek Nation and, according to tradition, was adopted into the nation. The Creek tribe of the Talledegas had built a new town south of their old one and opposite to the capitol village Tucabatchee. The abandoned village, located on the Coosa River, was given to the Natchez refugees and they repaired it, giving it the name of Nautche in 1756.
Chinnabee must have been born before 1720 if he was a warrior in the war with the French, but he was still fighting in the Seminole War in 1818, which would have made him near 100 years old. The name of his wife is unknown but her reared at least five children. His sons were Selocta Fixico and Matthews. His daughters were Haw and the other daughters' names are unknown. They married white men, one named Quarrels and the other Procter, according to Chinnabee's grandson. When he was asked why he fought with the whites, he replied, &#8220I started out by helping the English to destroy the French establishments at the fork of the Coosa and to defeat Bienville and his Choctaws at Achaia on the Tombigbee River. I had sworn revenge on the French for the destruction of my people on the Mississippi.” He and both his sons fought with the English against the Americans in the Revolutionary War but later fought for the Americans in 1812.
I will continue with the story of Chinnabee next week.