La. Native American tribes keep traditions alive
 By Katie Kennedy

Condensed by Native Village

Louisiana: Jerry Talbot is of the Choctaw Turtle tribe and Louisiana Band of Choctaws.  When he was a child, his Grandmother -- a full-blooded Cherokee/Choctaw -- taught him his ancestors' war party dance.

“It has a rich history,” Talbot said. “The men would do it before every hunt to bring luck.”

Jerry performed at “A Tribute to the First Louisianans” exhibit at the Louisiana State Archives building. The exhibit features artifacts and crafts from 15 Louisiana Native American tribes. It's the first time this many tribes have been represented at the same time.

“The influence of Native Americans in Louisiana is profound,” said Secretary of State, Jay Dardenne. “I always say they’re the first ingredient in the cultural gumbo that makes up our state.”

Kenneth Gill of the Choctaw Turtle tribe and Louisiana Band of Choctaws said the union was much needed. “You can meet a member of another tribe, and they don’t know who you are or your people,” Gill said. “This conjoining of the minds can only breed good.”

Elisabeth Pierite is a singer and legend keeper for the Tunica/Biloxi tribe. She performed several dance songs, and says that the stories behind them are rich in history and are important to her tribe.  “We take on that duty of making sure our stories and traditions stay alive,” Pierite said.

The Louisiana State Archives decorates its annual Christmas tree with objects relating to its December exhibit. This year, the tree is topped with a red stick. Red sticks were boundary marker used by the Houma Indians to separate their tribe from the Istrouma Indians.

 “A Tribute to the First Louisianans” will be on display at Louisiana State Archives through Jan. 31.  A video of Native American interviews from the exhibit's opening will be sent to area schools.