November is Native American Heritage Month, or as it is commonly referred to, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. In recognition of this time, the Bayou Lacombe Museum in Lacombe, Louisiana presents four events that celebrate and acknowledge the rich, diverse traditions and contributions of Native peoples that lie at the heart of Lacombe's founding.
The events, to be held on Saturday afternoons on November 9, 16, 23 and 30, include tribal dances, demonstrations, traditional foods, beadwork, split-cane basketry, hide tanning, blowgun making, powwow dancing, tribal commemorations and discussion forums. “South Louisiana hasn't seen anything quite like this before,” says Brian Schneider, organizing committee chairperson. All four public events will be held in or near the museum, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Bayou Lacombe Museum is located at 61115 Saint Mary Street in Lacombe.
The focus of these events is Choctaw heritage. “Bayou Lacombe is older than New Orleans,” observed museum President and Lacombe resident Karen Raymond. “For us, Choctaw history and culture are even older legacies. We had an active tribal community here until fairly recent times,” she said. “As part of that legacy, tribal dances that were lost for almost 100 years are being brought back to Lacombe during Native American Heritage Month by Choctaw culture bearers.”
Another lost tribal heritage to be revived is stickball, America's oldest field sport. Also called “The Little Brother of War,” elements of this rough-and-tumble game will be displayed near the museum grounds. “After many years, the spirit of tribal culture is returning to Bayou Lacombe. We're getting ready to welcome that spirit back,” said Choctaw Nation descendent Waylon Gary White Deer, creator of the four heritage events happening at the museum. Traditional tribal foods will be available at each event, prepared by Margo Rosas, who will also present demonstrations on file pounding and hide tanning.
The first event is set for November 9 and will honor Native American veterans. Representatives from the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the St. Tammany Parish Council will speak. Native members of the military like the Choctaws who fought at the Battle of New Orleans will be remembered and traditional tribal foods will include a file pounding demonstration.
November 16 offers an afternoon of tribal social dances performed by members of the Pearl River Reservation in Mississippi. The public is invited to participate. Stickball demonstrations and a question-and-answer forum follow.
November 23 is Father Rouquette Day, commemorating the enduring legacy of Louisiana icon Fr. Adrien Emmanuel Rouquette (1813-1887) and his tribal ministry at Lacombe. Speakers will read Fr. Rouquette poetry and present a discussion titled, "Whatever Happened to the Choctaw of Bayou Lacombe?"
Want to see living, traditional artistry? Learn how to round dance and find out what jingle dress dancing is all about? On November 30, you'll be able to hear master native artists explain their works, watch premier powwow dancers perform and join in the Choctaw Snake Dance. President Raymond reminds us, “Bayou people know how to have a good time. So come hang out with us and have some fun.”
These special events will be held Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Regular operating hours are Thursday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for seniors 65 and over, $1 for students 6-17 and free for children 5 and under (group rates and family memberships available).
For more information, call (985) 788-1403, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://bayoulacombemuseum.com.
ABOUT THE BAYOU LACOMBE MUSEUM
First opened in 1912 as a two-room schoolhouse, the Bayou Lacombe Museum has served the St. Tammany community for over 40 years as a cultural center. Renovated in February, the museum is home to a vast collection of artifacts that tell the story of Lacombe from the 18th to the early 20th centuries through five main interpretive displays: the history of the Choctaw in Lacombe, rural life of the area in the early 20th century, the life and influence of poet-priest Fr. Adrien Rouquette, who nurtured the local Choctaw and wrote about the beauty of the area, John Davis lumber industry and its influence on the region, and the Hall of Heroes, which honors local residents for their military service.