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.

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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!

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.