THE DELTA 303 Delta Frontier (1817–1861) This fertile land belonged to the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations until the 1820s and 1830s. With Hernando de Soto’s ill-fated sixteenth-century expedition across northern Mississippi to the Arkansas side of the big river, the Spanish ceremonially laid claim to the present-day Delta but never established a real foothold. The French later claimed the Delta along with the rest of present-day Mississippi, but they only colonized the Gulf Coast and those lands along the Mississippi River from present-day Vicksburg southward. The French were ousted by the British after the French and Indian War, but once again a European power that assumed control over the Delta failed to settle it. A slow trickle of white settlers descended upon the Delta following the United States of America’s creation of the Mississippi Territory in 1798. These Americans