United Houma Nation History
The United Houma Nation today is composed of a very proud and independent people who have close ties to the water and land of their ancestors. The unique history of our people has shaped our tribe today and the culture and way of life are a lifeline to that history.
The Houma Nation 300+ years ago was located in Central Louisiana where the boundary marker between the Houmas and the Bayougoulas was the namesake of the capitol city of Baton Rouge meaning “red stick.” With the encroachment of French settlers, the Houmas began migrating south until they reached the lower reaches of coastal Louisiana. Because the land was located along the flood plains of the Mississippi River, it was considered uninhabitable by most settlers. The Houmas were able to live peacefully off of the land, which provided all of their nourishment. Tribal members were traditionally farmers, fishermen and trappers. With the discovery of oil and gas in the 1930s, Houmas became vulnerable once again. Unable to read, write and speaking only a modified French interspersed with their own language, Houmas were easy prey for land developers and oil and gas companies who recognized the value of their property.
It was not until the 1940s that Houma children could attend school, and even then a quality education was still unavailable. Indian schools or “settlement schools” as they were referred to, offered up to a 7th grade education and were staffed by uncertified instructors.
In an effort to provide education for their children, several families moved to the outskirts of New Orleans in the lower areas of Jefferson, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. Here Houma students could attend school and were able to graduate. This movement led to a large urban tribal settlement that still exists today. Even though equal educational pursuits were granted in 1965, few Houmas actually graduated. Many, in fear of the discrimination they experienced at public schools, chose to continue to work in traditional tribal employment as fishermen where they thrived. Consequently, this educational segregation is still felt by the Tribe today which accounts for the huge emphasis of education with our youth. Graduation was not achievable until the 1960s integration movement.
Sorting through the multiple sources of information to discern which are accurate and which are false can be exhausting. Below are links and files to factually accurate articles written about the United Houma Nation verified and supported by the Tribe.