Our Communities-Bayou Lafourche Biloxi Chitimacha

THE GOVERNING BODY

The governing body of the Bayou Lafourche Band is the Tribal Council and the Council of Elders.  The Tribal Council is comprised of five members and the Council of Elders is comprised of five members each.

Tribal Council: (Left to right, standing)

Chief  – Randy P. Verdun
Deputy Chief
– Curtis L. Verdun
Secretary
– Sharon V. LeBouef
Treasurer
– Cathy B. Collins
Warden
– Aaron D. Verdun

Council of Elders: (Left to right, seated)

Jacques Billiot
Clovis J. Billiot
Clovis J. Billiot, Jr.
John A. Dupre
Hazel N. Hearty
Gloria V. Jarreau (not in picture)
Marguerite Darda LeBouef
Ronald Naquin
Ulyssee J. Verdin

SETTLEMENT OF LOWER BAYOU LAFOURCHE

The earliest record of any ancestor of the Biloxi-Chitimacha Indians on Bayou Lafourche is contained in the land purchase of Genevieve Magnon (Magneau, Mayon) on 16 April 1827 when she bought the land of Paulin Verret, which was bounded above by Antoine Besse and below by Girod Brothers. This land was on the east bank (left descending side) of Bayou Lafourche just below the community of Rita, across the bayou from today’s Lockport, three sections below Louisiana Hwy. 654, which goes to the Gheens community. Genevieve was not an Indian but she had two children by Jean Charles Billiot, son of Jean-Baptiste Louis Billiot and Marianne Iris (who was Chitimacha). It is not known if she ever inhabited this land. This section of land is shown on the Jean Baptiste Bourgiugnon D’Anville map dated 1732, as an “anciens village.”

By the 1850 census of Lafourche Parish, some of the children of Adelaide Billiot, who had married (1) Michel Dardart and (2) Auguste Crepelle, appeared on Bayou Lafourche. Adelaide was the sister of Jean Charles Billiot. Auguste Crepelle was listed with his two sons by Adelaide, Auguste Crepelle (Jr.) and Charles Faustin Crepelle, but Adelaide was not listed. It is known she was still alive in 1855. Her children of the marriage with Michel Dardart were living next to Auguste: Marcelin Dardar (given as Crepule) with his wife, Marie Elizabeth Billiot, and their three children; and Rosalie Dardar with her husband Jean Baptiste Roubion (given as Robichaux), no children named, but in their house was Joseph Severin Billiot also called “Crepel” – the brother of Rosalie. Just below them was Jean Plaisance.

The Crepelles were not listed on the 1860 census of Lafourche, but Paulin Dardar was listed in Ward 5 between Gregoire Serigner and Pierre Lee, below Golden Meadow but somewhere above Leeville, on the west side of Bayou Lafourche.

In 1870 Marcelin Dardar (called Marcelin Crepelle on the 1850 census) was listed as an oyster dealer in Ward 5 of Lafourche Parish, all Dardars in the house given as “mulatto.” His first wife had died by then, and in his house was Henriette, a 14 year old, given as keeping house, mother of Drauzin Dardar, then a 7 month old baby.

In 1880 the Augustin Crepel Jr. family #79 appeared again on the census, in Ward 10 near #83 Gregoire Serigny; all the Crepels were given as “mulatto.” By now 6 other families of the Indian forefathers were listed as head of the households: #82 Abel Billiot (white), #92 Charles Dardar (mulatto), #93 Marcelin Dardar (mulatto), #108 Clement Dardar (white), #109 Paulin Verdin (mulatto), and #204 Joseph Rene Billiot (mulatto). Families #1 through #87 were given on the left bank of Bayou Lafourche. With the exception of Clement Dardar, who had no occupation listed, all the others were given as farmers.

The next census, 1900 Ward 10 of Lafourche Parish, showed 11 families, 59 people, in a clustered community below Golden Meadow but above Leeville, all appearing to be on the east side of Bayou Lafourche, race given as “Indian”: #345 Alexander Dardare with wife and 2 children; #346 Etienne Verdin with wife and 3 children; #347 Polin Dardare with wife and 6 children; #348 Neville Beoie (Billiot) with wife and 7 children; #349 Charles Beoie with wife and 3 children and Roman Verdin his son-in-law; #350 Ernest Dardar with wife and 2 children; Omer Bieie with wife and 6 children; #352 Clement Dardar with wife and 7 children; #353 Josaide Dardare with wife; #354 Joseph Dardare with wife and 2 children. Occupations were fisherman, day laborers, and hunters. Theophile Dardar #393, given as “white”, with wife and 3 children were living in Ward 10, but not near this community.

According to the family, Charles Alexander Billiot went to Bayou Lafourche before 1900 from Pointe-aux-Chene to trap on a share basis – his share was 35%, with 65% going to the land owner. Charles was interviewed by John R. Swanton in 1907 and two photographs of Charles (called “Chalo”) with his family in front of their home on Bayou Lafourche, made of rough hewn wood siding with a palmetto roof, appear in Swanton’s The Indians of the Southeastern United States. This must have been one of the better houses because most of the Indian houses were one room, made of mud and moss bousillier (chinking) between small tree branches with palmetto roofing and a “stick and mud” fireplace for cooking. Swanton quoted Charles as saying he knew of the Ouacha, Biloxi, Colapissa, Pascagoula, Atakapa, and Chitimacha Indians. Charles was 69 years old when Swanton visited him. Charles’ father, Alexandre Billiot, was named several times in the Swanton notes as “Chief of the Chitimachas” and Charles was looked upon as the leader of his community as evidenced by Swanton’s visit to see him on Bayou Lafourche for information.

In 1909 there was a hurricane which was devastating to the Indians of lower Pointe-aux-Chene. Many lost all of their belongings and some even their lives. The family of Bernard Verdin was wiped with the exception of one person. Some who survived moved to Bayou Lafourche, settling in such places as Fala, l’Eskine (chenieres between Bayou Pointe-aux-Chene and Bayou Lafourche), and what sounds like Perriaque, one of the chenieres below where the Fourchon Road now is. None of these places are inhabited today. Subsequent hurricanes and flooding caused the Indians to move farther up Bayou Lafourche for protection, to the “settlement” area just below Golden Meadow.

Periods of time are measured according to flooding and hurricanes and how devastating they were to the Indians. From 1962 to 1965 they suffered intense hurricanes, such as Hurricane Hilda (with tornadoes that killed many in 1964), Hurricane Betsy (in 1965) and others more recent (Hurricane Juan and Hurricane Andrew). As a result, Indians moved farther inland to Larose and Lockport, where many of them remain today, still a vital part of the community because of family relationships.  As recently as Hurricane Juan this writer’s daughter worked with FEMA and cried along with the Indians as they related their losses to her in filling out forms for Federal assistance, some left only with the clothing on their backs and their lives, no shelter, no food and no way to earn a living.

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