POINTE-AU-CHIEN INDIAN TRIBE HOLDS FIRST CULTURE CAMP
LA, JULY 20, 2012: The
Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe is ending its first annual culture camp
today. The camp was held in
Pointe-au-Chien for 8-14 year olds and lasted one week. Festivities will culminate today after a boat
ride to some of the historical sites.
The campers will do a presentation of songs and dancing today at noon at
Live Oak Baptist Church, followed by a potluck.
Dion Lirette will perform the flute.
The campers learned crafts,
dancing, singing and history. Campers
enjoyed story telling from tribal elders Jake Billiot, who told the history of
Pointe-au-Chien and how Pointe-au-Chien got its name; Arline Naquin, who
discussed the history of education for the Indians of Pointe-au-Chien; and Emary
Billiot, who talked about growing up in Pointe-au-Chien and living in a
palmetto hut. Chief Albert Naquin from
the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi Chitimacha taught drumming and singing;
Ernie Dardar from the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha taught
palmetto basket weaving; tribal member Yvonne Ferguson taught shawl and
beadwork; tribal member Donna Ferguson taught dreamcatchers; Dottie Ratliff
taught painting; and tribal member Emily Pitre taught chokers. Patty Ferguson-Bohnee wrote a French song for
the kids to sing about their heritage.
Other volunteers included tribal members Christine Verdin, Lori Stewart
and Michelle Matherne.
Campers also learned how to build
a palmetto hut occupied by their ancestors.
Dion Lirette from Crownpoint assisted in building a willow and taught
palmetto building. The campers worked on
the palmetto hut throughout the week.
For more information about the
camp, please contact Michelle Matherne at (985) 209-4198.
Tribal Member has News Article Published
July 1, 2012
Tribal Member Tegan Billiot, a student at South Terrebonne High School, wrote an article about the Tribe
that appeared in the LSU Tiger Times. She wrote the article when she participated in a summer program at the Louisiana
Scolastic Journalism Institute at LSU. Tribal Council Members Theresa Dardar and Michelle Matherne were interviewed
by the class, as well as tribal member Angele Verdin Black.
The article can be viewed here:
Tribal Election Results
August 25, 2011
Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribal members recently cast their ballot in tribal elections.
The Tribal Executive Council was reelected for another term. The officers include Chairman Charles Verdin, Sr., Second
Chairman Donald Dardar, Secretary Michelle Matherne, and Treasurer Missy Verdin. Tribal members also elected eight representatives
to serve on the Tribal Council including Earl Billiot, Sr., Leroy Billiot, Theresa Dardar, Christine Verdin, Basile Dardar,
Arline Naquin, Emily Pitre, and Melissa Viguerie.
Brenda Billiot, Esther Billiot, Jake Billiot,
Laurencia Billiot, Wallace Verdin, Earline Verdin, and Shirley Verdin were selected to serve on the Council of Elders.
The Elders serve in an advisory capacity to the tribal council. In the event of a tie vote on any matter before the
tribal council, the Elders' Council has authority to cast the tie-breaking vote.
The Tribal Council has been active in working on response and recovery efforts
from hurricanes and the BP Oil Spill. The Tribe's office building, which was destroyed by Gustav and Ike, is currently
in the rebuilding stages. In addition, the Tribe is actively taking measures to protect sacred and cultural sites, advocate
for improved educational opportunities, and seeking federal recognition from the United States government. The
Tribe is holding its Fall Social on September 17 beginning at 11 AM.
For further information, contact Michelle Matherne at 594-3267.
Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe
Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha
Bayou Lafourche Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha
Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha
Contact: Recovery@lctci.com or (225) 485-8765
Working for the betterment of Bayou Indians of South Louisiana
Coastal Tribes Appeal for Help After Ike and Gustav
Lower Bayou Indian Communities
Tribal Communities Dealt Blows
after Gustav and Ike Hit Gulf Coast.
second time in three years, tribes in South Louisiana face back-to-back catastrophic hurricanes. In South Louisiana, the lower bayou Indian communities of Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe, the Isle de Jean
Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha, the Bayou Lafourche Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha, and the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha
face tough times. Three years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita dealt devastating
blows, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike ravaged the small fishing communities. Hurricane
Gustav destroyed tribal buildings, tribal homes, and left some tribal members homeless.
Some members are living in homes that are not habitable. Hurricane Ike,
a category 2 storm passing 275 miles to the West, caused a 6-8 foot storm surge in lower Pointe-au-Chien and Isle de Jean
Charles. Almost every home in the tribal communities has some damage, and the
tribal communities of the Grand Caillou/Dulac and Bayou Lafourche Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha are also facing similar problems. Tribal leaders assessed that more damage was caused to their communities during Ike
and Gustav than during the 2005 hurricane season.
to the tribal communities results from years of neglect. Unfortunately, the Pointe-au-Chien
Indian Community and the Isle de Jean Charles Indian Community are exposed to the elements.
With no levee and no coastal restoration projects planned to protect the Community, the Pointe-au-Chien, the Isle de
Jean Charles, and other communities, these small tribal communities face hard times.
Their current situation was exasperated when the Mississippi River was rerouted, the barrier islands were not protected,
and the oil companies arbitrarily and systematically cut canals resulting in increased salt water intrusion. Because the Terrebonne Barrier Islands are disappearing, the tribal homelands of the Pointe-au-Chien and
the Isle a Jean Charles Indian Tribes are now the barrier Islands, resulting in more damage and flooding during each hurricane
three weeks, tribal communities finally have electricity and water to start the clean-up process. Some houses, however, cannot be repaired or cleaned. Because
it took so long to start the clean-up process, some families face mold and mildew. Insurance
companies told tribal members to wait to clean up until they can investigate. "It's
a big mess," said Chief Albert Naquin of Isle de Jean Charles, "and we are going to need a lot of help to clean it up."
Charles Verdin of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe is concerned about the impacts the storms will have on fishermen, who have
been unemployed for the past month—the height of the shrimping season. Most
families work during this time period and save funds to last throughout the winter, with the loss of their stored food supply
from their freezers, the loss of additional food supply and income, and rebuilding, this is going to be a tough winter.
officials traveled to Washington D.C. this week to request funding for the State, but the Louisiana tribes need community-wide
rebuilding relief to sustain their communities. In the past, relief funds for
rebuilding and repair have not been sufficient and tribal members who should have benefited from state-wide programs for rebuilding
have been denied assistance because tribal members live on "family property." Further,
the State provided a white paper on coastal restoration needs, which focused primarily on already funded projects and repair
of levees that were breached. Tribal burial grounds and traditional hunting and
fishing areas are also left exposed and tribal leaders fear will ultimately be lost to the Gulf of Mexico.
of federal status impacts the ability of the tribes to receive aid from the federal government or from having a real voice
in recovery and relief in the South Louisiana region. Through the Louisiana Coastal
Tribes Coalition, bayou Indian tribes are working together on emergency response and rebuilding efforts. After the 2005 hurricanes, the LCTC was able to coordinate with the Mennonite Disaster Service to build
five homes in four tribal communities. LCTC is coordinating clean-up and rebuilding
efforts across four Indian communities. The Tribes are hoping to coordinate long-term
recovery and coastal restoration efforts in order to protect the culture and way of life of the tribal people of South Louisiana. At the same time, the bayou tribes need to raise over $500,000 to pay for experts
and research to assist in their petitions for federal acknowledgment which are due to the federal government soon. All fundraising efforts, however, have been impacted by these storms.
To learn how
to volunteer or to donate, please visit the www.lctci.com, or http://pactribe.tripod.com. Donations can be made directly to
the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe at PO Box 416, Montegut, LA 70377. The Louisiana
Environmental Action Network, www.leanweb.org., is working directly with the tribes to provide much-needed supplies. Only donations to the Coalition, the Coalition's member tribes, or organizations working directly with
the tribes, are guaranteed to reach those impacted.
September 8, 2008
Most of Louisiana's remaining Native Americans reside in four centuries-old
communities in the southern-most ends of Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, such as Pointe-au-Chien (renamed "Chenes"
by non-Indians). In this sleepy, modest fishing town, Indian French is the language most often heard, and generations
of smiles and laughter almost always accompany a good pot of jambalaya or plate of soft shell crabs.
Today, these unique communities, their language, Indian culture, lifestyle and even their identity as a separate people
are deeply threatened.
On September 1,
2008, Hurricane Gustav ripped through these historic bayou towns with ferocious winds and a six foot storm
surge. In its wake, Gustav left a trail of ripped roofs or crumpled houses, overlain with uprooted
marsh and thick mud, unparalleled elsewhere in Louisiana. Almost
all of these simple homes sustained major damage, from being pushed off their foundation to having their roofs ripped
off. Generations of entire extended families have lost everything, with no monetary means to recover.
If these communities are
to survive, they need help in rebuilding and recovery efforts. To date, one elected official and no agency
representatives at any level have visited them. To date, no media representatives have been there to report on the devastation.
Unseen, and unheard, and without any utilities, their despair grows. Their immediate
needs are simple: food and water to sustain them, tarps and screws to secure their roofs and walls (where possible), tools
and supplies to muck out, and earth-moving equipment and roll-off containers to get the debris out. So far, only the
Louisiana Environmental Action Network's disaster relief mission, the American Red Cross, and Four Directions Solidarity Network
have delivered on some of these needs.
At present, specific
needs include generators and box fans, building supplies such as roofing paper, sheet metal
and screws, water for cleaning and drinking, cleaning products, pressure washers, tarps, tools, first aid supplies, squeegees,
shovels, storage containers and heavy duty garbage bags. In the medium term, they will need building
materials to rebuild their homes, and personal items, furniture, clothes, refrigerators, freezers, and toys need
to be replaced. Long term, the community will need assistance with storm hardening and surge protection, and for
the government to get serious about coastal restoration in the Bayou Lafourche basin. Immediately, the Community
could really use some energetic young people to help them muck out.
If you want to go there and assist with the clean
up, please provide contact information to Joel Waltzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can be made to the Pointe-au-Chien Indian
Tribe, PO Box 416, Montegut, LA 70377, http://pactribe.tripod.com/, or the Louisiana Environmental Action Network's Gustav relief effort, by
visiting its website at http://leanweb.org.html. Donations made to either the
Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe or LEAN are tax deductible.
For more information: Chairman
Charles "Chuckie" Verdin of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe, (985) 856-5336; or Marylee Orr, Director, LEAN, (225) 588-5059;
or Joel Waltzer, tribal lawyer, (504) 430-0844.
May 28, 2008
TWO RECOGNITION DECISIONS IN ONE DAY FOR THE POINTE-AU-CHIEN INDIAN TRIBE
Proposed Finding provides an opportunity for the Tribe to supplement the record.
Pointe-au-Chien Indian Community,
May 28, 2008: Yesterday, the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe received two recognition decisions, one
from the Terrebonne Parish School Board and one from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tribal members attended a Terrebonne Parish
School Board meeting where the Board unanimously approved a request previously made by Council Representative Christine Conner
for recognition as an Indian Tribe. The Tribe was grateful for the recognition from the School Board, which it will use to
support its application to become a member of a state organization that can provide opportunities to tribal members recognized
by the organization.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs also called the
Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe to deliver its initial findings in the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe's federal recognition case
yesterday. Tribe members have been awaiting a decision since 1996, when the Tribe submitted its petition for federal recognition.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs placed the petition on active consideration in February 2005, advising the Tribe that it had
two months to turn in information and instructing it to resubmit all of the Tribe's genealogy charts by April 15, 2005. Under
the regulations, the BIA had one year to issue a decision, which could be extended an additional six months. However, during
the three years that followed being placed on active consideration, the Tribe received numerous extension letters from the
BIA advising of its need to delay the issuance of the decision. During this time period, the Tribe was not allowed to submit
additional information or receive any guidance.
After twelve years, the Tribe finally has direction
from the BIA on what it should do to strengthen its case to the federal government. Signing the proposed findings was one
of the last actions taken by Assistant Secretary Carl Artman before his resignation became final last week.
There are seven criteria for federal recognition,
and the BIA found that the Tribe meets four of the criteria and provided evidence to partially meet two of the other criteria.
The Tribe has not yet received the written decision from the BIA. But from the conference call, the Tribe understands that
the Tribe needs to prove that its ancestors existed as a tribe prior to 1830. "Today is a good day," said Tribal Elder Arline
Naquin, "we have been waiting twelve years for direction from the BIA on what we should be focusing on, and now we have it."
Tribal leaders and tribal members were in good spirits. Second Chairman Donald Dardar said that "the Tribe has conducted a
large amount of research and analysis since the Tribe was told it could not further supplement the record before the Proposed
Finding was issued. The Bureau has not yet reviewed that additional material which can positively impact our case."
The Bureau told the Tribe that the proposed
finding is the first step towards federal recognition and that the Tribe should use the finding as an opportunity to focus
its efforts on reversing the decision. The Tribal Council is grateful to receive some direction regarding the petition status.
In most cases, tribes receive technical assistance or obvious deficiency letters from the BIA prior to this stage in the process,
but no such considerations were made in the Pointe-au-Chien case. Tribal leaders plan to go to Washington D.C. to meet with
federal officials regarding the additional work needed to complete the petition.
The Tribe has six months to respond to the
BIA's proposed finding. A successful petition requires expert assistance from genealogists, historians, anthropologists, lawyers,
and demographers. The Tribe estimates that the work required to respond to the proposed finding will cost more than $500,000,
and the tribe has no money to fund the process. The Tribe will be soliciting donations from area businesses and has faith
that the funding will become available. Any expert assistance or donations are welcomed.
further information, contact Secretary Michelle Matherne of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe at (985) 594-3267.
April 10, 2007
COASTAL TRIBES COALITION
Mennonite Disaster Services
Contact: MDS at (985) 594-3946
Louisiana Coastal Tribes Coalition (225) 485-8765