From Saturday afternoon until Friday, a group of 10 tribal women will be exploring as a group the historical sites and areas of significance for the UHN over the last 300+ years from Angola, Louisiana to Bayou Terrebonne. As a group they will be connecting to our tribal roots while as individuals they will be exploring what does it mean to be a healthy Houma woman. Please see the daily account of the events and travels of these ladies as shared by Lanor Curole.
Day 1 - Home of Principal Chief Thomas Dardar:
With everyone gathering at 3pm, it was a busy day of taking care of last minute details such as shopping and ensuring all the supplies were packed and ready for the hundreds of miles being traveled over the next days. The group met at the home of Principal Chief Thomas Dardar near the Bayou Cane to signify and celebrate the last time the tribe lived together as one in that area. Today was a day of getting to know everyone and making sure all the equipment works. HERE COMES THE RAIN!
Thanks to the generous outpouring of Thomas and Noreen Dardar, the group was well taken care of including a wonderful dinner of Shrimp Okra Gumbo and Chicken and Sausage Gumbo. Extra points to Ms. Louise and Ms. Marlene for sleeping in the tent tonight. It was a late night as we were all excited and ready to begin the adventure!
Day 2 - Tunica Hills, Louisiana:
Waking up to the rain means we've got to adapt our original plans. At 5:00 am we all woke and began getting ready to pick and move to our next destination. Despite the weather we still got our morning work out in and rolled out at 7:30. Hoping for a chance of some lighter rain, we are heading up to the Tunica Hills to walk on the Old Tunica Trail. Although the rain stopped us from getting our walk going, those of us in the bus did get the chance to see the beauty of the trail as we drove through (yes in some pretty wet and muddy spots).
An important stop for us today was the historic marker of Houmas Landing and Portage of the Cross. The marker identifies the area where the original marker between the Houmas and the Bayougoulas stood. Its easy to see why it was placed there. Its the highest point with the clearest view to the Mississippi River. If only our ancestors then knew what challenges the next 300 years would bring.
No tents tonight as the rain is pretty hard and steady. We are hearing of flooding and tornadoes back home. As we got ready for dinner in our cabin we smugged with sweet grass and prayed for protection for our journey and our friends and family back home. Creator please keep our people safe.
Day 3 - Angola Penitentiary, Old State Capitol and LSU Campus:
This morning we started out with a tour of Angola Penitentiary which originally was a site of a tribal settlement in the 1700s. At one point we stopped on our tour at the natural landing for the Mississippi River to provide prayer and an offering to our ancestors, a prayer for the individuals who are confined to the prison and the prison administration. From there we headed over to Old State Capitol and walked along the levee to LSU campus for 4.5 miles. While we enjoyed the wildlife along the river on our right we talked about how the land must have looked before colonization. At LSU we were welcomed by the Administration and faculty while we discussed potential collaboration. In the heart of the campus we spent the evening at the Indian mounds. It was so wonderful to laugh and get to know one another better over a pot of macque choux. We closed the evening by walking up to the top of the mounds and walk on the land our people did so many years ago. A special thanks to Vice Provost of Minority Affairs, Derick Rovaris, for his kindness, assistance and friendship.
Day 4 - St. Paul's Church and Houmas House:
Working through some soreness we were fortunate to spend our morning meditating and talking about the challenging day we would be having. Today was the day that signified the beginning of the efforts to colonize and assimilate our people. We started our walk for the day at Point Pleasant, which was the site of a peace treaty between the Houmas and the Bayougoulas. Today was another 4.5 mile walk along the levee as we traveled to St. Paul's Church. The community has been coming together to preserve this place of worship that has one of the first Catholic Churches in the Mississppi valley built by Father Duru who lived among our people at one point in time. While we walked a stray dog suddenly appeared to great us all. He seemed to be excited to see us on our trek and actually joined us for about a mile. Perhaps he was an ancestors coming to greet and join us. A special thanks to the Friends of St. Paul for their immense welcoming and support.
Houmas House was a challenge emotionally. We appreciated the staff and owner in opening their doors to us and providing a personal tour of the home and grounds. Our primary purpose of visiting the site was to visit the location of the original ceremonial mound on the property. The mounds were torn down to build a rail road track into the property in the 1800s. We recognized that the mound was more than likely just plowed through and not treated with the appropriate care and reverence it deserved. The staff was gracious to provide some private time to allow our group to offer our prayers to the ancestors who created that mound and were very misunderstood by the Europeans.
Tonight we moved on to Bayou Lacombe. Ms. Margo Rosas has been so kind to open her property to allow our campsite for the night. Additionally thank you to Councilwoman Lora Ann Chaisson for her wonderful and very healthy cooking!