And a Child Opened the Gates of Paradise: Appropriation of Houma History at Fort Adams, Mississippi

Friday, January 4, 2013: 2:30 PM
Southdown Room (Sheraton New Orleans)
Daniel d'Oney, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
J. Daniel d’Oney’s paper examines how the history of the United Houma Nation (UHN) has been used by the non-Indian residents of Fort Adams, Mississippi.  Once a thriving Mississippi river port, Fort Adams gradually dwindled to the level of a few houses and assorted hunting camps.  The sole vestige of its glory days is a small Catholic chapel, in front of which a marker claims an adjacent bluff as the site of the first baptism in the Lower Mississippi Valley.  There is no supporting evidence for this, as the baptism occurred in the 1699 Houma village and that site has never been verified.  Thus, the marker is an attempt on the part of local residents to use Houma history to keep their own non-Indian settlement from fading into oblivion, without the consent or assistance of any member of the United Houma Nation.  This appropriation stands as part of an enduring trend in the Houma’s history, as it is with so many other Native American groups. This paper looks at concepts of who decides Houma history, why it is interpreted and then recorded, and how a chosen narrative affects the group whose history has been misappropriated.  
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