Natchitoches ( /nækətəʃ/ nak-ə-təsh) is a city in and the parish seat of Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, United States. Established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis as part of French Louisiana, the community was named after the Natchitoches Indian tribe. The City of Natchitoches was first incorporated on February 5, 1819. It is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. Natchitoches's sister city is Nacogdoches, Texas. The population was 17,865 at the 2000 census. It is the home of Northwestern State University, founded in 1884 as a normal school, for the education of teachers of elementary school students.
Natchitoches is the principal city of the Natchitoches Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Natchitoches Parish. It is within the Cane River National Heritage Area, significant for the contributions of the Cane River Louisiana Créoles.
Natchitoches was established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis. It is the oldest permanent settlement within the borders of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Natchitoches was founded as a French outpost on the Red River for trade with Spanish-controlled Mexico; French traders settled there as early as 1699. The post was established near a village of Natchitoches Indians, after whom the city was named.