Hyde-Smith Bill Written to Elevate Historic Jefferson College & Grand Village of the Natchez Indians within the National Park System

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VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith Advocates Her Bill to Add Natchez Sites to Natchez National Historical Park.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and the National Park Service (NPS) today agreed to work together to advance legislation she authored to elevate the status of the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and Jefferson College within the National Park System.

The Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and Jefferson College Affiliated Areas Establishment Act (S.3241), which Hyde-Smith introduced in November, was among the bills reviewed Wednesday at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (ENR) Subcommittee on National Parks hearing.  Michael A. Caldwell, an associated director at the NPS, provided testimony in support of S.3241 at the hearing.

“This bill is extremely important because of the rich history of Natchez, Mississippi, which is one of the premiere historical tourism destinations in my state,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the subcommittee.  “I introduced this bill to support these two historic sites by amplifying their stories not only to Mississippians, but to all Americans and visitors from around the world who are drawn to Natchez.”

Hyde-Smith welcomed the chance to work with the National Park Service on details within S.3241.  As written, the legislation would make the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and Jefferson College eligible for preservation, protection, and interpretation resources as affiliate areas of the Natchez National Historical Park.

Caldwell indicated that a reconnaissance survey of the Grand Village and Jefferson College sites requested by Hyde-Smith is undergoing an internal review with expectations that it could be completed by summer.  In his submitted testimony, Caldwell suggested possible legislative changes regarding site boundaries and site status with the National Park System.

“I certainly appreciate the willingness of the Park Service to provide recommended language and additional information,” Hyde-Smith said.

The NPS survey will help determine whether the Natchez sites are eligible to be affiliated areas, which are defined 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 ENR Subcommittee on National Parks hearing was convened to receive testimony on administration’s position on 23 pending bills relevant to the NPS.