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Hyde-Smith introduces bill to widen Natchez National Historical Park footprint



Sen Cindy Hyde-Smith

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) on Tuesday introduced legislation to include the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and Jefferson College into the footprint of the Natchez National Historical Park.

Hyde-Smith introduced the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and Jefferson College Affiliated Areas Establishment Act (S.3241) to elevate the standing of the two sites within the National Park Service (NPS) in order to make them eligible for preservation, protection, and interpretation resources as affiliate areas of the Natchez National Historical Park.

“The residents of Natchez and Adams County in recent years have embarked on saving and showcasing broad aspects of their meaningful and diverse heritage, which spans centuries and is central to Mississippi’s history.  With this bill, we have an opportunity to assist in that effort by granting affiliated area designations to Grand Village and Jefferson College,” Hyde-Smith said.

The NPS is now undergoing a process to determine the eligibility of the Mississippi sites to be affiliated areas, which the NPS defines as locations that “preserve significant properties outside the National Park System … [and that] draw on technical or financial aid from the National Park Service.  Upon a successful determination, this bill would then codify that decision.”

Listed as a National Historic Landmark, the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians interprets the story of the Natchez people and their ancestors who inhabited what is now southwest Mississippi from around 700-1730.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Jefferson College was founded in 1802 and is the birthplace of Mississippi’s statehood, the state’s first institution of higher learning, and served as a Freedmen’s Bureau site after the Civil War.

S.3241 would direct the NPS to set the boundaries of the affiliated areas and develop a management plan for each within three years.  In cooperation with the NPS, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History would be the management entity that would work with Grand Village and Jefferson College for preservation, interpretation, and marketing.

The bill does not allow the NPS to acquire property at the affiliate areas or to assume responsibility for their operation, maintenance, or management.

The Hyde-Smith legislation has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that has jurisdiction over the NPS.  Hyde-Smith serves on this committee and its Subcommittee on National Parks.

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