Hurricane Ida threatens to destroy Native American culture in Louisiana


Without the help and support of friends, the unique traditions of the Louisiana bayou will become another victim of Ida.

HOUMA, Louisiana – Hurricanes destroy more than just homes and businesses in southern Louisiana. They threaten to destroy the culture that can only be found here.

And now, the damage caused by Hurricane Ida is threatening part of the Native American culture specific to the parish of Terrebonne.

Just seven miles from the Gulf of Mexico at Theriot, homes along the Bayou Dularge bear the scars of Hurricane Ida. Houses like Janie Luster’s. She has no insurance, but the storm does not drive her away.

“These are the traditional ways of life. People come together here, ”Luster said of why she loves living where she does.

At the top of the bayou, there isn’t much left for his daughter Ann Robichaux. A slab, a pile of debris, while his family lives in a mobile home and sea containers.

“I love the bayou. Everyone at times like this, everyone is there for everyone, ”said Robichaux.

Janie is a United Houma Nation elder. She saw storms chasing her Native American compatriots.

“But now we’ve seen migration to Baton Rouge, to the Covington area, Mandeville and some even out of state,” Luster said.

And with them go traditions. Janie is considered to be a bearer of Louisiana culture. After being lost for over 80 years, she brought back a 300-year-old tribal tradition, a special pattern of weaving baskets with the dwarf palm leaf. Now she is even more determined to teach the next generation.

“And I think now with this hurricane it’s even more entrenched for me to be able to do that,” Luster said.

“These traditions are what makes Louisiana, Louisiana and that’s why people come to visit our state,” said Teresa Parker, president of the Louisiana Folklife Commission.

It’s a group of state volunteers. Members want to ensure that cultural foods and recipes, music, arts and crafts are not lost to environmental changes. So they make sure that culture carriers, like Janie, get financial support from places like the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation and the National Performance Network.

“It’s great because honestly that’s where our culture comes from, the bayous,” said Robichaux.

“A little song came to me: ‘I get by with a little help from my friends’, and my friends have gone through the years, made contact through jazz, the different festivals,” Luster said as his eyes filled with tears. .

And that’s because without the help and support of friends, the unique traditions of the Louisiana bayou will become another victim of Ida.

Along with the United Houma Nation, the tribal communities of Pointe-au-Chien and Isle-de-Jean-Charles have also been severely affected. If you would like to help, you can visit the following websites:

Help the United Houma Nation rebuild

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