This past Saturday, June 29, I attended a brunch at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum.  http://www.lasportshall.com/   As an historian I was mostly interested in the small history portion upstairs. As a member of the Choctaw-Apache Tribal Council I was interested in all things relating to our culture and past.

The vast majority of the museum is sports-related and will be of interest to sports enthusiasts. Some of you know that Greg Procell was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1988, based on his record as leading all-time scorer in high school basketball in the United States. http://www.lasportshall.com/inductees/basketball/greg-procell/?query=display_name.like.Procell&xsearch_id=inductee_search1&xsearch[0]=Procell&back=inductee There is a plaque in the new museum, but I was unable to find any associated memorabilia in the high school basketball section.

Less than half of the upstairs is devoted to regional history and contemporary culture. I was very pleased that most of the artifacts and signage portrayed our tribe in a positive and historically-accurate manner. thanks to Charles Chaimberlain, former historian at the Louisiana State Museum for getting things right. Our tribe’s main interpretive panel follows the one for the Caddo Nation.

CAE SignboardOn the other side of the room the late Ruby Parrie’s hand-knotted rosary is in a case with other artifacts from tribes and cultural groups in the area

RubyParrie

Continuing traditions

The hallmark artifact from our tribe is Joe Foster Paddie’s dugout canoe, which is on loan to the museum from Chief John W. Procell. The canoe and label is visible, but partially obstructed by a vertical display of regional folkways.

Dugout photo by Charles Chamberlain

JFPaddieBoat Boat Text

My only complaint is the text to a small panel with a good photo of Rhonda Remedies Gauthier cooking tamales from scratch. The panel correctly identifies her as being from Zwolle, but incorrectly identifies tamales as an indication of Spanish traditions. This often repeated but false explanation of the tamale is something I’ve been concerned with for some time, and hopefully my forthcoming book celebrating Choctaw-Apache foodways will help correct the public misconception . As anyone who has been to Spain will attest, they know nothing about tamales. Tamales are indigenous foods of North America, including the U.S. south and southwest and Mexico. The only significant Spanish contribution to tamales was to bring hogs to the western hemisphere, thereby offering a new ingredient to the ancient food.

But tamale text aside, I highly suggest visiting the museum. The museum is open Tuesdays- Saturdays 10 AM- 4:30 PM and Sundays from 1-5 PM. Admission is $5 for adults, and free for children 12 and younger. The visit will prove more exciting if you enjoy sports history, but even if you’d like to see the tribe’s artifacts in a museum,  it will be worth the drive to Natchitoches.

Robert Caldwell

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