NATCHEZ, Miss. (WJTV) – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) 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 in order to elevate the standing of the two sites within the National Park Service (NPS).

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.”

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

Jefferson College, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, 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.

The act would direct the NPS to set the boundaries of the affiliated areas and develop a management plan for each within three years.