202 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI JACKSON NIGHTTIME Jackson, the seat of state government, is the largest city and metropolitan area in Mississippi. Nearly one fifth of Mississippi’s 3 million residents live in and around Jackson. The city has museums, galleries, convention centers, parks, concert halls, and a planetarium. The Jackson metropolitan area also has eleven institutions of higher learning along with eighteen different hospitals. Even though Jackson is the largest city in Mississippi, it retains the small-town feel and friendliness which defines the Magnolia State through events like Fondren’s neighborhood event on the first Thursday of every month, farmers markets, rodeos, and other gatherings filled with Southern hospitality. Native Mississippians The Choctaws occupied and controlled the Capital Area when white settlers began to migrate. But the Choctaws were not the only indigenous group with a history in the region. In the 1600s when the French arrived, other groups of indigenous peoples that included the Chonque, Koroa, Ofo, Tioux, Tunica, and the Yazoo were settled around the mouth of the Yazoo River. By 1740, those tribes had either been been killed, left the area, or joined with larger tribes such as the Choctaws or Chickasaws. By 1763, when England gained control of the region by winning the French and Indian War, only the Choctaws remained. When the Mississippi Territory officially organized in 1798, the Choctaw Nation ruled the central areas. Their claims to what would become the Capital Area discouraged white settlement in the region as other areas of the territory, like Natchez, thrived. Shortly after Mississippi secured its statehood in 1817, George Poindexter, Mississippi’s representative in Congress and chair of the committee on public lands, responded to growing demands at home for more land. His report condemning Choctaw encroachments into the Louisiana Territory aimed to nudge Choctaw leaders into land negotiations. They refused. But fissures among the various factions within the Choctaw Nation were growing. When Choctaw leaders met with General Thomas Hinds and General Andrew Jackson at Doak’s Stand on the Natchez Trace in the fall of 1820, divisions among the Choctaws and a growing indebtedness to the American government pushed Choctaw Chief Pushmataha to concede, and on October 18, 1820, the Treaty of Doak’s Stand was finalized. In exchange for $20,000 allocated from the Mississippi legislature, the Choctaw Nation traded one-third of its remaining land in the state for a “tract of country west of the Mississippi River, situated between the Arkansas and the Red River.” The land acquired through the treaty was eventually divided into approximately ten counties, including the Capital Area. The Treaty of Doak’s Stand and the transfer of the central territory of the state disrupted the herding practices and mobility within the Capital Area that the Choctaws had always exercised. Even though most permanent Choctaw settlements were located outside the Capital Area, these new restrictions were seen as ominous signs by tribal leaders. Choctaw leaders in other parts of the state felt a new sense of urgency to pursue assimilation measures that they hoped would better equip them to resist future white encroachments. Such efforts met with little success, however, and permanent removal was on the horizon. Stablizing the Capital In February 1821, the state legislature charged commissioners Thomas Hinds, William Lattimore, and James Patton with the task of surveying locations in the central part of the state that could serve as the state capital. The commissioners identified a ridge of high land along the Pearl River and recommended LeFleur’s Bluff. On February 12, the Mississippi legislature passed an act declaring, “all that tract of land ceded to the United States by the Choctaw Nation of Indians on the 18th day of October, 1820, and bounded as above stated, shall be and is hereby directed and established into a new county, which shall be called and known by the name Hinds.” Thus, Hinds County was established in 1821. It was named for General Thomas Hinds. On November 28, 1821, LeFleur’s Bluff was selected by the state legislature to be the capital and given the name Jackson in honor of the popular general. Despite its designation as the state’s capital, Jackson served as little more than a central location for state PHOTO BY GREG CAMPBELL