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.

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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!

The Choctaw-Apache Tribe of Ebarb 17th Annual Pow Wow April 30 & May 1 Wednesday, Apr 28 2010 

The Choctaw-Apache Tribe of Ebarb
17th Annual Pow Wow
Friday April 30 and Saturday May 1, 2010
at Zwolle High School

The Head Staff are as follows:
MC- Harold Comby
AD- Vance Beaver
Head Gourd- Travis Harris
Head Man- Ricky Garcie
Head Lady- Janelle Peavy
Drum- Frank Tongkeamba
Head Little Lady- Barbara Ramedies
Head Little Man- Trenton Malmay

SCHEDULE:
FRIDAY
9-9:30 Gourd Dancing
9:30-2 PM- Demonstrations
6 PM – Gourd Dancing
7 PM – Grand Entry
SATURDAY
10 AM Gourd Dancing
12 Noon- Lunch
1 PM- Grand Entry
5 PM – Dinner
6 PM – Grand Entry

This is a smoke, drug, and alcohol free event.

_________________________________________________________________________-

Photos from Saturday May 1:

Visit to Natchitoches Fish Hatchery and meeting with Regional archaeologist Jeff Girard Sunday, Dec 6 2009 

The Natchitoches Fish Hatchery is a built environment, yet still a combination Natural Resources and Heritage Resources site.  Hatchery Manager Karen Kilpatrick introduced the MAHR (Masters of Arts in Heritage Resources) class to the history and inner-workings of the hatchery.

The Hatchery has been in operation since the early 1930s. Some 164,000,000 fish have been raised in its 53 ponds, each about .8 acres.  It is the third largest public hatchery in the southeast.  The hatchery has raised over 16 species, but currently focuses on the following categories:

1.) Recreation- Which includes largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and channel catfish

2.)Restoration- These include striped bass, paddlefish, alligator, and snapping turtle

3.) Recovery- These are threatened and endangered species like the Pallid Sturgeon, and the Louisiana Pearl shell mussel

A small aquarium and museum is on-site. In addition to raising fish, the site conducts environmental education, cultural heritage education (including events on Caddo culture), and special events.

About ten years ago, an American Indian employee of the hatchery brought forth concerns about the desecration of the Caddo burial grounds.  The hatchery responded with a day of reconciliation and prayer, followed by a much higher level sensitivity to interpreting the cultural history of the Caddo village and burials that the hatchery sits on. The site is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Smithsonian has agreed to repatriate. I have details of the sequence of events from year 2000 to present in my field notes, but choose not to publish them here. More recently the Hatchery unveiled the Caddo Memorial Plaza. Karen Kilpatrick shared a slideshow that included a lot of information, including Winslow Walker’s excavation including Caddo horse burials.

Next, Regional Archaeologist Jeff Girard met us. He pointed out the location of his dig, which included a prehistoric site on the hatchery grounds that he excavated in 2007. It was apparently NOT associated with the earlier Caddo excavation. Girard began by giving us background of Winslow Walker’s excavation and the “direct historical method” (cf Bureau of American Ethnology; John Swanton). The site included a layer of dark soil associated with habitation, broken pottery and very few features. Girard used a water screening method, with flotation tank. This preserved plant remains and lightweight objects that would have otherwise been lost.  He found a high concentration of fish, turtle and deer remains, as well as hickory/ walnut, pecan shells, maize and persimmon. The pottery he found resembled pottery of Central Louisiana rather than Caddo. The excavation was near a proposed Caddo repatriation plot, so that’s all the detail I care to relay in this public setting. The meeting with Girard was very informative. I look forward to any opportunity to learn from him in the future.

This site visit, including the interaction with Karen Kilpatrick and Jeff Girard, is not typical of what public users (tourists) would experience. I am grateful for that, but it makes the visit difficult to translate to public end-users’ expectations. In any event, a visit to the hatchery is well worth it. There is a knowledgeable director, small but nice aquarium, museum and learning center, and friendly staff. Their website at http://www.fws.gov/natchitoches/ needs improvement, and if they continue down the road of working cultural resources into their mission they should work to acquire a staff dedicated to public interpretation and more aggressively promote visitation.

Publications of FWS on Natchitoches Hatchery and Caddo:

http://library.fws.gov/Pubs2/nativeamerican01.pdf

http://www.fws.gov/eddies/pdfs/EddiesSummer2008.pdf

http://www.fws.gov/southeast/SoutheasternCurrents/archives/2009/2009February.pdf

Poverty Point Friday, Nov 6 2009 

Poverty Point was everything I had hoped for: a large, publicly owned site, good interpretation, a visitors’ center, and a dormitory that housed the Heritage Resources students on our overnight trip.  The Poverty Point Earthworks have been noted since the 1870s, but aerial photography revealed a more complex system excavated since the 1950s. The site’s purpose is to preserve and interpret the earthworks. The earthworks are a National Register listed State Park, National Historic Landmark, and is a National Monument.

Poverty point has been the location for a number of field schools for Tulane University, University of Louisiana- Lafayette (ULL), and Washington University in St. Louis, among others. The central hall of the dormitory area includes photographic testament of many of those field schools.

More recently, Mississippi State (Starkville) and University of Louisiana- Monroe have employed “high tech” methods  including magnetic graditometry and began limited excavation of the central plaza earlier this year.

Since our group constituted the visitors present early on Halloween morning, I chatted with the park rangers about their knowledge of the site and visitors’ usual questions. Interpretive rangers like to explain the Poverty Point culture and differentiate it from the later Coles Creek culture of Sarah’s mound.

Erosion is a major concern for preserving the site, and site workers are in a constant battle to reduce erosion.

The only recommendations I have are for the State of Louisiana to provide a larger staff to care for the site, and to implement credit/debit card machines in the gift shop.

LaSalle Parish: White Sulphur Springs and Jena Band of Choctaw Friday, Nov 6 2009 

The second and third stops on the way to Poverty Point were two locations where MAHR students are doing thesis research in LaSalle Parish. Neither site had tourists or other visitors while we were present.

White Sulphur Springs

White Sulphur Springs has seen better days.

White Sulphur Springs

Courtney Cloy provided visitors with on-site interpretation and distributed a hand-out which included a map of the area, circa 1900. The visit entailed looking at what once was a more active spring and lots of walking through the woods in the rain.

Using the map as a reference, Mr. Cloy performed a pedestrian survey of the area which revealed surface evidence of the Bethards Hotel. Mr. Cloy will be mapping the area and preparing an amendment to previous National Register documentation as part of his thesis project.

The location is an unassuming roadside gazebo and associated Archaeology site on private property. Mr. Cloy’s excitement regarding the subject matter was evident. However, I think he tended to “over-interpret” the site, given current knowledge of the site. Much more investigation is needed to do interpretation. Mr. Cloy is a native of LaSalle Parish, which explains his fascination with this place. White Sulphur Springs was once an important tourist destination in LaSalle Parish. Most of the sprawling development, which included numerous hotels and stores, and may have included a casino and brothel, has been lost to history. Mr. Cloy aims at recovering it.

Marie Richards explains traditional and elected leadershipJena Band of Choctaw

Our cohort visited the Jena Band of Choctaw Administration Office where we met Marie Richards (MAHR 2010). Ms. Richards gave the class an extemporaneous overview of her thesis work and some introduction to the tribe and its history, including a list of traditional and elected leaders. The visit would have been improved with a member of the tribal council or a tribal crafts-person. The visit might have also been improved with a brochure or hand-out on the history of the band, tribal activities, or social services (especially the health center). I found the subject matter, a band of American Indians with a living culture, much more engaging than White Sulphur Springs, but I feel as though the site and topic were “under-interpreted” to our class.