At noon on Wednesday, March 23, George E. Milne will present “Mississippi’s ‘First’ Urban Landscape?" as part of the History Is Lunch series. The program will take place in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building and stream live on the Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s Facebook page—https://www.facebook.com/MDAHOfficial.
Milne is the author of Natchez Country: Indians, Colonists, and the Landscapes of Race in French Louisiana, which investigates the relationships between Natchez Indians and newly arrived Europeans during the early 1700s. “I’m interested in the ways in which Europeans and Native Americans projected power into each other’s worlds,” Milne said. “Using Geographic Information Software, I’ve uncovered settlement and other land-use patterns employed by Mississippi’s colonial and indigenous inhabitants.”
French mapmakers of the era were using developments in mathematics by such people as René Descartes to record increasingly accurate representations of the landscapes they encountered. In 1723 an engineer named Ignace François Broutin surveyed a particularly fertile area above bluffs along the Mississippi River. “He undertook this project during an extremely unsettled time,” Milne said. “The Natchez Indians, with whom the French settlers and enslaved Africans lived side by side, had recently engaged in a series of sniping incidents in retaliation for the abusive behavior of the colonists. Broutin’s map of Natchez gives us many clues to help us understand not only that incident, but the way the immigrants used the land.”
Milne uses laser and satellite imagery to analyze the imprint of the French settlers and Native American population and create three-dimensional projections of the results.
George Milne teaches early U.S. history at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He earned his MA in U.S. history from New York University and his PhD in U.S. history from the University of Oklahoma. Milne has written entries for The Encyclopedia of American History and The Encyclopedia of Native American History, published articles in Ethnohistory and William and Mary Quarterly, and authored a chapter in the book Religion, Space, and the Atlantic World edited by John Corrigan. His first book, Natchez Country: Indians, Colonists, and the Landscapes of Race in French Louisiana, was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2015.
History Is Lunch is sponsored by the John and Lucy Shackelford Charitable Fund of the Community Foundation for Mississippi. The weekly lecture series of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History explores different aspects of the state's past. The hour-long programs are held in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium of the Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum building at 222 North Street in Jackson. Signed copies of the book will be available.