Choctaw-Apache exhibits in Louisaina Sports Hall of Fame/NW LA History Museum Sunday, Jun 30 2013 

This past Saturday, June 29, I attended a brunch at the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum.   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.[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


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

Great year for Native American Student Association at UT Arlington Saturday, May 4 2013 

I was honored to receive the Organization President Appreciation Award at UT Arlington Multicultural Affairs’ Diversity Awards Ceremony for my service as president of the Native American Student Association. NASA has been fortunate this year to have continuous support from Native alumni, consistent, great advice from our advisors, and and a small but very dedicated group of core members.

Our powwow has become a critical part of the North Texas Native and non-Native community, profiled this year in, FW Star-Telegram, Dallas Morning News, Beyond Bows and Arrows Radio Show, the Buffalo News as well as the UTA Shorthorn.  This amazing year follows up on last year’s Outstanding Contribution to the Greater Community by a Student Organization Award given by UTA Student Governance.

I congratulate the new officers for 2013-2014: Stephanie Matthews, President; Harold Rogers, Vice President;  Matthew Schneider, Secretary; Benjamin Honea ,Treasurer. I look forward to an exciting year of NASA activities and a wonderful powwow on February  22, 2014. Wednesday, Mar 27 2013

I was recently awarded a number of distinctions at the University of Texas at Arlington, including the George Wolfskill Award for Outstanding Graduate Paper and a second-year award of the Hall-Kohfeldt Scholarship in American Indian and Southwestern Studies. Attached is the Fall 2012 issue of Fronteras that profiles my 2012 Hall-Kohfeldt Scholarship. I was also recipient of the 2012 Jenkins and Virginia Garrett Endowed Fellowship in the History of Cartography. I thank my family and tribal citizens who have supported my efforts to continue to do the research that resulted in these awards.

Choctaw-Apache Pine Straw Hat Sunday, Dec 23 2012 

Reprinted from

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.


North Louisiana

Native American

Photo: Thomas A. Wintz, Jr.

Ruby Parrie’s Choctaw-Apache Hand Knotted Rosary Sunday, Dec 23 2012 

RubyRosaryReprinted from

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.

North Louisiana

Native American

Wood, Twine
Photo: Thomas A. Wintz, Jr.

Jim Toby’s Choctaw-Apache Bird Carvings Sunday, Dec 23 2012 

JimTobyBirdHornspoonsToday I found an interesting write-up on Jim Toby’s bird carvings. Like many other Choctaw men, Jim Toby made horn spoons. These are very ornate.

“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.

Preserving History Thursday, Nov 22 2012 

Preserving History

Congratulations to MAHR ’10 colleague Erin White for creating the project Preserving History,

Fall 2012 Coursework Tuesday, Aug 28 2012 

This fall looks to be an exciting time. I am registered for Dr. Imre Josef Demhardt’s History of Cartography II and Dr. Stanley Palmer’s Transatlantic History to 1800. I’ll also be doing an independent study with Dr. David E. Narrett.


Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival 2011 Sunday, May 6 2012 

NSU Folk Festival 2011

Image adapted from artwork of Gary White Deer, Natchitoches NSU Folk Festival.

The 32nd Annual (2011) NSU Folk Festival, The Tribes Remain: Contemporary Southeastern Indian Cultures was a wonderful opportunity for a reunion of Louisiana American Indian folk artisans and a rare chance for traditional craftspeople from tribes originating in the southeast to come together in Northwest Louisiana.  The announcement for, and explanation of the festival was made  in Louisiana Folk. Because of a problem in the Prather Coliseum, the event had to be moved to the smaller Friedman Student Union building and surrounding area.

I was honored and privileged to co-present with Marjorie Battiste on a panel entitled “Foodways: The Three Sisters: Corn, Beans, and Squash; and other gifts.” Mrs. Battiste is a recognized Koasati (Coushatta) food historian, pine needle basketmaker,and storyteller. She was inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Master Folk Artists in 1982. She makes sofke and some of the best frybread I’ve ever eaten.

The festival featured Caddo singing and dance, Chickasaw stomp dance, and a stickball exhibition game played by the Mississippi Choctaw. I was happy to have my tribe represented. The Rising Sun youth group had a table and sold drinks as a fundraiser.

A schedule of the events is here. Sonny Carter took some great photos of the event, and   Historic Natchitoches also ran a story. The festival, which originated in 1980, has been awarded  “Top Twenty Events in the Southeast” four times by the Southeast Tourism Society. I go to powowws a few times a year, but events like this are very rare anywhere, let alone Louisiana. I think the last time the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival had an event like this was the 1980s.  In my opinion an event like this should be held annually.

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.

« Previous PageNext Page »