I ran for Vice-Chairman of the Chocataw-Apache Tribe in the 2014 elections. As a trained historian and experienced in Cultural resources, archaeology, public history, and heritage management and a sitting Councilmember (2011-2014) I dedicated countless hours toward Federal Recognition (2010-Present). I ran on a platform to ensure preservation of our traditional cultural places and practices. I didn’t win the election, but will seek ways to continue to work for the betterment of my people. Best wishes for the new council and their tasks ahead.
Robert Caldwell for Vice Chairman: Educated and Experienced Sunday, Jun 22 2014
Three new booklets to benefit the Chocataw-Apache of Ebarb Thursday, May 22 2014
This Spring I co-authored and published three short books to benefit the Choctaw-Apache. Two were cookbooks,
Let’s All Eat! and Something Sweet with Rhonda Remedies Gauthier and Choctaw-Apache: Twenty Years of Powwow with Suzie Sepulvado and Amelia Bison. They are available from the office for $5 plus shipping. I hope to publish them electronically with all proceeds after costs to benefit the tribe in Fall 2014.
Choctaw-Apache Pine Straw Hat Sunday, Dec 23 2012
Reprinted from http://www.louisianafolklife.org
Marcy Williams learned to create crafts out of pine straw in the 1950s, when someone came to the Catholic Church in Zwolle and taught a group of women how to make pine straw baskets. Two of her sisters attended, made a basket, and quit working with straw. Marcy Williams made a few baskets of her own, but did not pursue the craft until in the early 1990s, when she began to work with pine straw again. Being basically self-taught, she used pine straw to create not only baskets, but dolls and hats as well.
Mrs. Williams found a doll with a face that “looked like Grandma Parrie” and used it to create a Dutch doll. Using either used or new dolls, Mrs. Williams fashioned dresses of varying lengths and styles. The dolls ranged in size from about eight inches to about three feet. The dresses could be plain or fancy, body-hugging or flared, short or long. Once made onto the doll, however, the dresses were not to be removed.
In addition to doll clothing, Mrs. Williams fashioned accessories for adults or children. She made a number of hats of varying sizes and styles for both women and men. She also covered shoes with pine straw and made a pair of pine straw shoes, and also made purses from pine straw.
Williams used pine straw to make a variety of other crafts. She covered various liquor bottles with pine straw to resemble Chianti bottles, made a three-layer cake from pine straw, and even made a pine straw table cover for her dining room table. Many of her items were purely decorative. She made roses and other flowers from pine straw and used them to decorate hats, shoes, and unusual pieces of drift wood. Mrs. Williams was working on a series of small animals, like turtles and road runners, out of pine straw before her death in 2001.
Photo: Thomas A. Wintz, Jr.
Ruby Parrie’s Choctaw-Apache Hand Knotted Rosary Sunday, Dec 23 2012
Reprinted from http://www.louisianafolklife.org
Creole State Exhibit Artifacts at Louisaina Folklife
Ruby Parrie’s traditional skills developed from need and circumstance. One of 18 children, each of whom had chores and responsibilities, she was so small when she started cooking that she had to stand on an apple crate to reach the cabinet. She learned to quilt when she was just 10 years old. Her mother taught her to hand sew shirt tails and material pieces into plain, square quilt tops, stuffing the quilts with grass and using unraveled flour sacks for the thread. After she married Leo Parrie and began to rear their 11 children, her mother-in-law taught her to use a treadle sewing machine. Mrs. Parrie still uses the hanging quilt frame that originally belonged to her mother-in-law.
Ruby’s mother-in-law also taught her to sew without using pre-made patterns or directions. She makes most of her own clothes and makes uniforms and clothing for other people using patterns that she creates free-hand from newspapers. Mrs. Parrie also makes shirts, blouses, dresses, pants, ties, and other regalia for Native American powwow activities. She has a sense of Native American color and style and dressed her children in clothing she made to reflect their heritage.
Having been raised in an economically deprived community, Mrs. Parrie does not like to waste anything. One day in the yard, she picked up a string so that no small animal would tangle in it. She idly made knots in the string while talking to a friend. The string began to resemble a rosary, so Mrs. Parrie experimented with knots and string types and began to make rosaries. She sometimes purchases beads to decorate the rosaries or has local artisans carve crosses.
Mrs. Parrie’s foodways traditions combine elements from Native American, European, and Southern cultures. Cleppies, a corruption of the French word, crêpes, are a type of Indian fry bread. Mrs. Parrie also makes sweet potato pies that are half-moon shaped and either baked or fried, similar to the Spanish empanada. Red pepper soup includes chicken, garlic, roasted red peppers that she has grown and dried, corn meal, and water. This soup is generally served on special occasions.
Mrs. Parrie’s specialty food is tamales. Using her mother’s recipe, she processes dried corn into hominy to make masa for the wrapping.. The meat for the tamales may be pork roast, beef, hog’s head, chicken, or deer that is cooked with garlic, salt, and her home-grown peppers. With special preparation, the corn, meat, seasonings, and corn shucks are steamed to perfection. She usually makes tamales about once a week, producing about 25 dozen at a time.
Photo: Thomas A. Wintz, Jr.
Jim Toby’s Choctaw-Apache Bird Carvings Sunday, Dec 23 2012
“Jim Toby was born in 1910 and passed away in 1986. He was a member of the Choctaw-Apache community. During the Great Depression, Toby worked as a cowboy and specialized in bronco riding. He learned to hunt using a bow and arrow, and was often found in the woods watching birds and other animals. In his later years he began to create animal images from wood and bone. These two birds are carved from cow horn, from which he also made spoons…”
The Choctaw-Apache community is located in Sabine Parish, centered around the towns of Ebarb and Zwolle.
Some thoughts on 2011 NSU Folk Festival Friday, Dec 23 2011
The 2011 NSU Folk Festival, “The Tribes Remain: Contemporary Southeastern Indian Cultures”
The gathering was an excellent opportunity for American Indian artisans from throughout the state and to get together with tribal members from Oklahoma and throughout the Southeast. The newsletter in advance of the festival is located here. An unplanned problems at Prather Coliseum the event was moved to the Friedman Student Union an nearby locations.
I was honored and privileged to present alongside Marjorie Battise in a narrative session entitled “Food Ways: The Three Sisters: Corn, Beans, and Squash and other Gifts.” Mrs. Battiste is a recognized Koasati (Coushatta) pine needle basket maker and food historian. She was inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Master Folk Artists in 1982.
The event included Caddo singing and dance. Chickasaw stomp dance, Mississippi Choctaw exhibition stickball game, crafts artists, and music. A schedule of the events is available here. Sonny Carter took some excellent pictures of the festival.
Remedies Family Reunion Thursday, Jul 29 2010
I attended the Remedies Family Reunion on Saturday July 24, 2010. It was held at St. Johns Catholic Church in the school building. The event was attended by descendants of George and Susan Remedies (my maternal great-grandparents) as well as more distant relations. Lineal descendants included surviving children, a number of grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.
Lateral relations and friends in attendance included A.J. Remedies, Sammy Leone, Victor Reyes, Hosea Remedies, Stella Remedies, Mary Patricia Remedies Miller, and Bertha Marie Remedies, among others.
The event was personally rewarding, but it also contributed to my understanding of family history, genealogy, and foodways. It will help inform my current and future research.
Making the hottest tamales: Foodways of the Choctaw-Apache of Ebarb Wednesday, May 5 2010
Working on my Thesis:
Food is an important marker of ethnicity, region, and even national identity. It has been used to delineate national and cultural boundaries, and to communicate social prestige or economic wealth. Food can be an integral part of both individual and group identity. Sometimes, foods are simultaneously markers for more than one identity, and sometimes foods create walls or borders for identity.Everywhere food is associated with home, family, and security, but often takes on deeper communicative functions, conveying complex social messages (Anderson 2005: 125-128).
Sabine Parish has a dense geographical distribution of enrolled members of the Choctaw-Apache Tribe of Ebarb, and those eligible for membership in the tribe. The Choctaw-Apache Community has a cultural heritage rich in food traditions, and the tribe recognizes the importance of food as a part of their traditions (Pierotti et al, 1996). These food traditions have long constituted an important ethnic marker for the community.However, these foodways are understudied, even at “face value”. Academic treatments of the Choctaw-Apache foodways as an investigation of ethnic identity are virtually non-existent.
I am a member of the Choctaw-Apache Tribe, but have lived outside the traditional communities of the tribe for the vast majority of my life. I am a student of history, anthropology and heritage resources and a lifelong food enthusiast. The foundation of this project thesis will be a kind of “food dialogue” between myself and people from the communities of Ebarb, Loring Lake, Grady Hill, Bayou Scie, Coon Ridge as well as the towns of Noble, Zwolle, and Many.
This study builds on Traditional Arts and Crafts in the Choctaw-Apache Community of Ebarb and other relevant studies. The goal is to offer the tribe additional documentation of the foodways of our people, as well as new physical and analytical resources on this important aspect of ethnic identity.
Foodways among the Choctaw-Apache Community Tuesday, May 4 2010
A review of Traditional Arts in the Choctaw Apache Community of Ebarb (1996).
Tribal members and elders write about themselves, from their own perspective to share with each other and the public. The Choctaw-Apache community has very strong food traditions. Pepper (green pepper and eggs, etc), tamales, sausage (chorizo), and Pondalote Bread. The booklet is the best single source on foodways of the community, and the entries are very compelling.
In addition to food, the booklet features many ancillary categories, including a chapter on hunting and fishing crafts, and another on farming, planting, and butchering. The book also has categories on traditional music, sewing, quilting and other handcrafts, stories and lore, and occupation lore, mostly dealing with the logging industry. Under the broad category chapters (listed above,) the book is arranged by entries by community member.
Oral History Interviews Tuesday, May 4 2010
I interviewed my great-aunt Margie Remedies in March 2010, for Dr. Dollar’s Oral History class. Margie Remedies grew up outside of Many, and married into the Remedies family, where she quickly learned their foodways. She offers a firsthand account that weaves together both an insider and outsider’s view of those foodways.
Two taped and transcribed interviews include numerous food preparation and food preservation techniques, as well as informative family vignettes. She explains how to make tamales from scratch: “first you butcher your hog…,” to making homemade ash lye for lying the corn, to spicing the meat, to hand rolling seventy-five dozen tamales.
Preparation of, and eating chili peppers was a key part of family food culture. Fresh (green) and/or dried (red) peppers were eaten at every meal. Peppers were dried by stringing them or laying them out on tin roofs. Pepper was prepared with eggs; fresh pepper with onions, garlic, and tomatoes, or as a spice in beans or peas. Aunt Margie explains the preparation of corn and pepper using hand food grinders, and, historically, using a “metat rock.” She tells how to make pigtail gravy and how to make hominy, masa, and tortillas the old way.
I look forward to follow up conversations with her and the opportunity to accompany her on a visit to L& W Tamales, her favorite Tamale supplier in Zwolle. A thesis on foodways seems like a bunch of fun. But it will inevitably be hard work too!