Membership criteria in effect today were put in place in 1983. They require an individual to be able to trace descent from a list of "known Houma Indian ancestors" who have been identified as such by the group's tribal council. Additionally, they must reside in Louisiana or be known to the council and have identified with the group in the past. The list of "known Houma Indian ancestors" (aka the "Tribal Lineage Base Lists") was developed in 1991 by the council from individuals enumerated as "Indian" in the 1860-1880 and 1900 Federal population census schedules of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes. As constructed, the Tribal Lineage Base Lists include only persons who were identified as "Indian" and do not include others who are clearly ancestors of the current petitioner's members.
Governing documents (of the Houma Alliance in 1974 and the United Houma Nation in 1979) indicate that for a time eligibility was supposedly based on a blood quantum requirement of one-fourth and later one-eighth "Houma Indian blood." No evidence was provided to show how this blood quantum requirement could have been determined, if in fact it was actually used. There is currently no blood quantum requirement.
The UHN presented a membership list containing 17,616 members. According to the membership list, last updated by the petitioner in January, 1992, 93% of the group's total current membership resides in Louisiana: 74% in Terrebonne, Lafourche, or adjoining parishes of Jefferson and St. Mary. Another 19% live elsewhere in the state of Louisiana. Less than 7% reside outside Louisiana.
Analysis of available data concerning the ancestry of members' parents shows that slightly more than half of the "parent" couples married other "Houmas."(1) The tendency to marry non-UHN members has increased since the 1950's. For the petitioner as a whole, the tendency today is toward exogamy, although endogamy may still be practiced at a significant level within some of the lower bayou communities. The data was not available to conduct an analysis of this situation.
Using documentary material found in official records (Federal, state, and local), Federal population census of the area, and other published and manuscript materials, it is possible to document "Indian" ancestry for only three of the earliest ancestors/progenitors of the current organization. These three "Indian progenitors" appear to represent three separate family lines. One is that of Houma Courteau/Abbe/Iacalobe, a Biloxi Indian (possibly also Chitimacha or Choctaw), and his children, including his daughter, Rosalie, who is central to "Houma" genealogy and history. There are also two apparently unrelated "Indian" women whose specific tribal heritage could not be documented. Nothing is known about the ancestors of these progenitors. Although other ancestors are reported to have been of "Indian" heritage, none of their heritage could be documented satisfactorily. A large number of the UHN's progenitors were Frenchmen who came to this country in the 1700's and were reputed to have married Indian women. Based on available documentation, all of the UHN's "Indian progenitors" were married to non-Indians, with the possible exception of Houma Courteau/Abbe/Iacalobe.
To deal with the analysis of the group's large, 17,616-member enrollment, statistical sampling techniques were utilized. Based on sampling data done by BAR, using the genealogical charts supplied by the petitioner, at least 84% of the total membership are projected to be able to trace to "Indian" heritage founded on one or more of the group's three progenitors who can be documented to be "Indian." In the systematic random sample of 176 UHN members, BAR was able to identify unreported ancestry for six members which could be traced to one or more of the three Indian progenitors. Charts provided by the petitioner had not made the connection to these progenitors.
It is clear that a significant portion of the members of the UHN have some "Indian" ancestry. But there is no evidence linking these ancestors to a particular historical tribe, or to historical tribes which combined and have continued to function as a tribal entity.
The petitioner's membership does not include individuals who are members of any Federally recognized tribe. None of the present-day members of the UHN petitioner were found to be enrolled in the recognized Mississippi Choctaw or Louisiana Chitimacha Tribes. Further, no evidence was provided or found to suggest any of the present-day members are enrolled elsewhere.
I. PRESENTATION AND UTILIZATION OF GENEALOGICAL DATA
The UHN is the largest membership yet reviewed under the Acknowledgment regulations (25 CFR 83). Therefore it seems appropriate to provide a brief discussion regarding how genealogical information was presented in the petition and how this information was utilized by BAR genealogists.
Genealogical data submitted with the petition included a series of 56 handdrawn charts tracing several generations of descendants from the group's earliest ancestors or "progenitors." These charts, reproduced on blue paper, became known as the petitioner's "blue charts" (they shall continue to be referred to as such herein also). Citations to specific blue charts appear as UHN BC and a number (e.g., "UHN BC1") in this report.
One or more of these blue charts were then used as cover sheets for a series of Ancestry Charts (optional form BIA-8305) and supporting Individual History Charts (optional form BIA-8304). The ancestry and individual history charts were used to show all known descendants of the group's earliest ancestors and covered seven, eight, and sometimes nine generations before reaching living, enrolled UHN members. The total volume of the genealogical charts (blue charts, ancestry charts, and individual history charts) when placed one on top of the other would make a stack approximately 18 feet tall. Although working with this many charts was cumbersome, it was, nonetheless, the most effective way for the petitioner to develop the genealogical record needed to describe the ancestry of the group's current membership stretching back to the 1700's. No consistent genealogical record is known to have existed prior to the group's preparation of the petition materials during the 1980's and early 1990's.
The greatest mechanical problem encountered in dealing with this many charts comes in trying to find the charts which relate to a specific living member. The early ancestors of the group as well as their descendants had large families (8 to 12 children), who in turn had large families. Families intermarried extensively, especially in the first few (i.e., earlier) generations. Persons with the same surname but different lineal ancestors, frequently married one another. Thus, people who share the same surname do not necessarily share the same ancestry.
Two database programs were utilized to analyze and evaluate the petitioner's membership and their claimed ancestry. A computerized database for the petitioner's current membership list, containing 17,616 members, was established on dBaseIII+ (UHN 1988b and UHN 1992). A powerful genealogical software program called "Roots III" was also utilized by BAR genealogists to create a separate genealogical database containing information on selected UHN families that could reasonably represent the ancestry of the group as a whole. For additional discussion on the Roots III database, refer to Section IX of this report, "Roots III Database and Sampling Techniques."
II. GOVERNING DOCUMENTS
A. Houma Indians of Louisiana, Inc., aka The Houma Tribes, Inc.
Four members of the UHN antecedent community attended the American Indian Conference which was held in Chicago in the early 1960's, and on their return began a formal organization (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, (HG) 1992a). First, they held meetings in each area. Then they began constructing a list of members (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, (HG) 1992a). The original organization was known as the Houma Indians of Louisiana, Inc. Articles of Incorporation were adopted on October 14, 1972 (UHN 1979). Membership in the organization was defined as "all members of the Houma Indian Tribes residing in Louisiana."
A split in the organization known as the Houma Indians of Louisiana, Inc. occurred in 1974 because the residents of the Dulac area reportedly felt unrepresented. The second group (the Dulac faction) formally organized on May 13, 1974, as the Houma Alliance (see further discussion below).
Following the split, the shareholders of the Houma Indians of Louisiana, Inc. held a special meeting on August 5, 1974, at which time they voted to change the group's name to The Houma Tribes, Inc. (UHN 1979). This name (The Houma Tribes, Inc.) was subsequently recorded with the State of Louisiana as an amendment to the 1972 Articles of Incorporation.
No governing documents other than the 1972 Articles of Incorporation were provided for The Houma Tribes, Inc./Houma Indians of Louisiana, Inc. The petitioner states that if there were any, they were probably destroyed in one of the many hurricanes (UHN 1989, NARF ltr).
B. Houma Alliance, Inc.
When the Houma Alliance broke away from the Houma Indians of Louisiana, Inc., they adopted Articles of Incorporation which separated membership into two classes: honorary members, who were defined as persons contributing services and property, who were elected by a majority vote of the Board of Directors, and "all persons of one-quarter (1/4) or more Houma Indian blood, residing in the State of Louisiana" (UHN 1974b). No information was provided to indicate that the group actually accepted any honorary members.
Additionally, the Articles of Incorporation for the Houma Alliance also included the following language:
In the event the Secretary of the Interior approves a constitution and set of By-Laws for the Houma Indian Tribe of Louisiana, then the members of that tribe as defined in such constitution and By-Laws shall thereafter constitute the membership of the corporation (UHN 1974b).
It is not clear from the document if the "Houma Indian Tribe of Louisiana" is the same as Houma Tribes, Inc., Houma Indians of Louisiana, Inc., or some other entity.
C. United Houma Nation, Inc.
The current organization is a merger of the two earlier groups, the Houma Tribes of Louisiana, Inc. formerly, Houma Indians of Louisiana, Inc. and the Houma Alliance, Inc. On February 10, 1979, the two groups met and resolved to consolidate. An Agreement of Consolidation was signed by representatives of both groups on May 12, 1979 (UHN 1979), consolidating as the United Houma Nation, Inc. (UHN). The consolidation agreement was filed and recorded with the State of Louisiana on July 18, 1979 (UHN 1979). The State's certification identifies The Houma Tribes, Inc. as "domiciled at Golden Meadow" with The Houma Alliance as "domiciled at Houma" and goes on to state "that the separate corporate existence of the consolidating corporations has ceased" (UHN 1979).
D. UHN Constitutions and Membership Requirements
Three constitutions were submitted for the UHN organization. The first and earliest one, dated July 18, 1979, was attached to the Agreement of Consolidation and submitted with the original petition. A second, similar but undated, version of the 1979 constitution was also provided with the original petition. The only differences noted between these two versions were an increase in the number of council members from 9 (1979 document) to 14 (undated document), and a change in the date for the election from May 2, 1979 (1979 document) to June 27, 1981 (undated document).
The third and current version of the constitution is dated August 20, 1983, and was received by the BAR on May 22, 1991 (UHN 1991b). The third version (hereinafter, 1983 constitution) contains substantial changes in the membership criteria compared to earlier versions. For a comparison of the 1979 and 1983 constitutional membership criteria, refer to Table 1.
COMPARISON OF CONSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS
|Article III - Membership
Section 1 - The membership of THE UNITED HOUMA NATION, INC. shall consist of:
(a) All Houma Indians who are living in the territorial limits defined by Article II, and who at the time of the ratification of this document possess one-eight (1/8) degree or more of Houma Indian blood shall be admitted to membership in the United Houma Nation, Inc. of Louisiana.
(b) All persons officially registered as Houma Indian at the time of the ratification shall be recognized as members of the United Houma Nations, Inc.[sic] (UHN 1985a Const.).
|Article III - Membership
Section 1 (A) Criteria
(1) who can trace descendency from a list of known Houma Indian ancestors as identified by tribal resolution duly approved by the United Houma Nation Tribal Council, and
(2) who reside in the state of Louisiana, or
(3) who are known to the members of the United Houma Nation Tribal Council or its delagatees [sic], and who identify with the Houma Tribe, shall be eligible for membership (UHN 1991a).
1. 1979 Constitution
The 1979 constitution limits eligibility to successful applicants for membership residing in the state of Louisiana (UHN 1979 version attached to the Agreement of Consolidation). Following a discussion about the residency requirement at a UHN tribal council meeting held November 30, 1979, the council members decided that no person should be denied membership based on residency (UHN 1979 Tribal Minutes). There was no resolution or amendment to support this decision.
Article II defines the territorial limits as "any parish where any Houma Indian may reside ...." Based on a membership list dated April 10, 1985, entitled "Name [sic] and addresses of People that live in other Parish [sic] & States" which was included in the petition, this criteria does not appear to have been followed (UHN 1979 Const.). The defined territory also includes "any lands hereafter acquired by or for the Houma Indians as tribal assets (UHN 1979 Const.)." It is unclear why this clause was included or if it pertains to membership.
a. Article III, Section 1
The second criteria in Article III, Section 1 (a) includes a one-eighth Houma Indian blood quantum. The basis on which the blood quantum was determined and if the quantum was ever calculated for any of the members is unknown. Section 1 (b) of the membership criteria accepts any person who had already been officially registered as a Houma Indian, presumably those registered in either of the predecessor organizations, at the time of ratification of the constitution.
b. Article III, Section 2
Section 2 of Article III gives the tribal council the power to pass ordinances governing future membership, loss of membership, and the adoption of new members. No ordinances of this nature were ever submitted.
c. Article III, Section 3
Section 3 of Article III places the burden of proof on the applicant in establishing eligibility for membership. There are no ordinances or resolutions to describe what documents are acceptable as evidence in establishing Indian ancestry or enrollment in the United Houma Nation, Inc.
2. Undated Constitution
Although there were no changes in the membership criteria in the undated version of the constitution, the number of members on the council (Article VI) changed from nine (9) to fourteen (14). The only other substantive change noted was the election date. Under the first constitution the election date was May 12, 1979; the undated version required the first election to be held June 27, 1981. No evidence was provided to indicate whether the undated version of the constitution was ever executed or adopted (UHN 1985a, Undated Const.).
3. 1983 Constitution
This constitution is dated August 20, 1983, and was received May 22, 1991 by BAR (UHN 1991a). The 1983 constitution is the current governing document of the UHN. The membership requirements of the 1983 constitution show a substantive change from those found in the UHN's 1979 constitution. Section 1 (A) (1) dropped the one-eighth degree blood quantum requirement. The language of the constitution indicates that descent is to be traced from a "list of known Houma Indian ancestors." No such list was provided with the 1983 constitution (see further discussion under F, Additional Governing Documents).
a. Sections 1-3
Section 1 (B) appears to reaffirm Section 1 (A) and adds that any one seeking membership "must apply to and be approved by the UHN Tribal Council or its delagatees [sic] (UHN 1991a Const.)." Section 2 empowers the Tribal Council to establish rules regarding enrollment and loss of membership (UHN 1991a Const.). Obvious deficiency (OD) letters requested (dated December 1, 1986 and May 27, 1987) copies of any rules established under this section; none were provided. Section 3 amends the UHN Constitution and revokes anything which may be inconsistent with this particular constitution (UHN 1991a Const.).
The last major change noted in the 1983 constitution is the addition of Article XV which provides ratification of the document (UHN 1991a Const.). The ratification reads "The by-laws shall be declared adopted ... (and) are approved by the UHNTC ... August 20, 1983 (UHN 1991a Const.)." The article reads "by-laws" rather than "constitution". For a comparison between the membership requirements found in the 1983 constitution and those found in 1983 by-laws, refer to Table 2.
Two undated sets of by-laws were submitted with significantly different membership requirements: one set closely followed the 1979 constitutional membership requirements, the other followed the 1983 constitutional membership requirements. Some confusion exists, however, because the by-laws which are similar in content to the 1979 constitution include a separate, one-page ratification statement, dated August 20, 1983. The ratified version contains a blood quantum requirement of "1/8 degree of more Houma Indian blood" which is not consistent with the current UHN constitution. The unratified version includes two additional requirements (namely, "all persons who reside in the state of Louisiana" and "all persons who are known to the members of the United Houma Nation Tribal Council or its delegates, and who identify with the Houma Tribe"), but does not contain a blood quantum requirement.
The section 1A of Article III of both versions of the bylaws includes as eligible for membership, "All persons officially registered as Houma Indian at the time of the Ratification of the Constitution of the United Houma Nation, Inc." According to field data, this section was added to grandfather-in those individuals already registered (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, (HG) 1992a). Based on available evidence, it appears that the ratification page was intended to cover the set of bylaws which matches the current constitution, but was inadvertently attached to the earlier version when the petition was assembled.
Section 4 of both sets of by-laws deal with the termination of membership, but are not specific as to who initiates the action to remove a member from the membership. Willful falsification of information on the application for membership is grounds for termination. Section 5, again for both sets of by-laws, provides for resignation from the UHN. The two versions of the by-laws are fairly consistent except for the membership requirements.
COMPARISON OF MEMBERSHIP REQUIREMENTS
in 1983 governing documents
|Article III - Membership
Section 1 (A) Criteria
(1) who can trace descendency from a list of known Houma Indian ancestors as identified by tribal resolution duly approved by the United Houma Nation Tribal Council, and
(2) who reside in the state of Louisiana, or
(3) who are known to the members of the United Houma Nation Tribal Council or its delagatees[sic], and who identify with the Houma Tribe, shall be eligible for membership (UHN 1991a Const.).
|Article III Membership
Section 1. Composition of Or-
A. ... shall consist of:
A-1. All persons officially registered as Houma Indian at the time of the Ratification of the Constitution of the United Houma Nation, Inc.
A-2. All persons who can trace descendency from a list of know Houma Indian ancestors as identified by tribal resolution duly approved by the United Houma Nation Tribal Council.
A-3. All persons who reside in the state of Louisiana.
A-4. All persons who are known to the members of the United Houma Nation Tribal Council or its delegates, and who identify with the Houma Tribe, shall be eligible for membership (UHN 1991a By-Laws).
F. Additional Governing Documents
Both the 1983 constitution and its matching, undated and unratified by-laws require the individual to be able to trace their descent "from a list of known Houma Indian ancestors as identified by tribal resolution duly approved" (UHN 1991b). No resolution or list of "known Houma Indian ancestors" (which could be identified by BAR researchers) was provided with either of the 1983 governing documents.
Later, Resolution 1, enacted May 28, 1991, was adopted designating the United States censuses for the years 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900 as the "Tribal Lineage Base Lists." Resolution 1 and the "Tribal Lineage Base Lists" were received by BAR July 16, 1991, after the Houma petition went on active consideration. The base lists will be discussed later in this report.
Resolution 1 states that:
in lawful consideration of establishing a sound and fair basis from which to determine, as acceptable, the genealogical lineage of Houma Indian descendence, accept without questions, or reservations, the United States Censuses for the years 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900 as the lawfully established "Tribal Lineage Base Lists" (UHN 1991b).
Since these "base lists" were established after the UHN membership list was compiled and submitted, they could not have been utilized in determining eligibility at the time the list was was being prepared.
III. ENROLLMENT PROCEDURES
The formal procedures for enrollment or registration in the former organizations are unknown and cannot be determined from the membership lists in existence. A house-to-house survey was taken sometime between 1973 and 1979 by volunteers in an effort to develop a "census" for the group. It was reported that registration cards were filled out during the house-to-house survey for each household by the head of the household. This registration form was developed in 1973 or 1974 (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1991a). "Census cards" were developed from the information on the registration form submitted by the applicant. In the field interview, UHN staff explained how the process began.
In 1979 they registered anyone who came in and (they) did not trace ancestry, but then . . . they had to do ancestry on each person. They . . . would go through the ancestry (to verify the ancestry). They then took existing membership and traced all people with cards, then they started giving numbers. Prior to the numbers they removed those who couldn't trace back (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, (DD) 1992a).
Essentially, the documentary evidence for ancestry and genealogies appear to have been collected and/or constructed by researchers Greg Bowman and Jonathan Beachy, who were working for the Mennonite Central Committee. Volunteers were recruited from the UHN membership to assist in gathering genealogical data. Eventually the UHN employed individuals who were members of the UHN to take over the membership duties (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, (DD) 1992a).
As mentioned earlier the group is said to have registered anyone who came in without tracing their ancestry. Recognizing the need to trace the ancestry of each person, Bowman would personally go through the cards and verify the ancestry. Cards of people who could not trace were removed before [UHN membership] numbers were assigned. The registration cards of seven members who had registered, been accepted for membership, but were later denied membership, were copied from two large file folders in the tribal office in Golden Meadow. In each case form letters had been sent by Dolores Dardar (tribal genealogist) to the members or families in question stating, "we are unable to trace your ancestry to Houma decent [sic] with the information you have furnished us. Your tribal roll # is no longer valid by the tribe" (Field Data Colliflower and McMillion, (DD) 1992a).
In each of the eight cases, the member's "official registration" card had been rubber stamped originally as accepted as a "Houma Tribal Member." Four of the eight appear to have been issued a UHN membership number; the other four were noted "not Houma" in the upper right corner of the card. The earliest card in the sample was dated September 30, 1975, the latest May 18, 1983. Based on these dates and the name of the respective chairperson stamped on the cards, this practice appears to have been in use for at least eight years and under the leadership of Helen Gindrat, Kirby Verret, Steve Cheramie, and John A. Billiot. (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1992a)
Helen Gindrat states that every card was reviewed and checked (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, (HG) 1992a). A list was then prepared and brought to the Tribal Council by Dolores Dardar for approval. Council representatives usually knew persons from their community (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, (HG) 1992a). The cards themselves provide no evidence to confirm or deny this process.
B. UHN "Base Lists"
There has been some confusion concerning the terms "base list" and "base roll." The current membership list of a petitioning group does not become a "base roll" until that group becomes federally recognized. The current membership list becomes the tribe's base list/roll when or if acknowledged.
The UHN has a current membership list and, in their (UHN) terms, one or more "base lists." The UHN "base lists" are lists composed of individuals (ancestors) found on the "blue charts" from whom the current members trace their ancestry. The UHN's "base list" is also known as the "Tribal Number Master List". The ancestors listed on the Tribal Number Master List consisted of all of the individuals that appear on the "blue charts." The third and final "base list" submitted by the petitioner is referrred to as the "Tribal Lineage Base List." This list is believed to have resulted from the BAR's two obvious deficiency letters requesting "any former lists" of tribal members (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, (MLT, DD) 1992; Bureau of Indian Affairs 1986, BAR OD ltr #1; 1987, BAR OD ltr #2). As noted previously, it appears that the "Tribal Lineage Base List" was not a functional document since it was constructed after the current membership list was submitted.
The petitioning group appears to have had no "membership list" per se prior to the list that was typed and submitted as part of the petition. For a discussion of the current membership list, refer to Section V of this report.
The UHN base list(s) are referred to in Article III, Section 1 (A) (1) of the Constitution. They appear to have evolved over time from several similar but different sources.
1. The First Base List
The first base list was a series of handdrawn ancestry charts which identified several generations of the group's early ancestors. Because these charts had been reproduced on yellow paper, they will be referred to herein as the "yellow charts." These charts, received with the initial documented petition on July 18, 1985, were used as cover sheets for approximately three linear feet of detailed genealogical charts (BIA optional forms 8304 and 8305).
2. The Second Base List
In 1988 the UHN submitted a second base list consisting of a second, larger series of the handdrawn ancestry charts. This second series of charts was reproduced on blue paper and is referred to herein as the "blue charts". Approximately 18 linear feet of supporting genealogical charts and a typewritten list entitled "Tribal Number Master List" were also submitted at this time. UHN genealogists advised BAR genealogists that the blue charts replaced the yellow charts and that the yellow charts and their three linear feet of supporting genealogical charts should not be used. Time has not permitted an examination of the yellow charts to determine how they compare with the blue charts and what was added or deleted.
The Tribal Number Master List is primarily a list of ancestors of the petitioning group. The list is said to have been compiled from Bowman's research on the families (UHN 1988b). It includes the ancestor's name, the unique (i.e., one-of-a-kind) number assigned by the UHN, and the number of the "blue chart" on which the name appears. The list includes several ancestors who are identified elsewhere by the UHN as non-Indians. Examples of such individuals are August Creppel (Tribal Number Master List number 0110A), Michel Dardar (0100A), Jean Charles Naquin (0171A), Thomas Molinere (0300A), Francois Galley (0086A), and Marie Manette Renaud (0134A, 0151A, 0163A), to mention but a few. An alternative name for the Tribal Number Master List might better be "Master Ancestor List."
3. The Third and Current Base List ("Tribal Lineage Base List")
At a special meeting of the UHN tribal council held May 28, 1991, a new and entirely different base list was adopted. This list could more aptly be called a census list because it is an abstract of individuals and households identified as "Indian" in one of several Federal population censuses. This list, as well as a list of 144 deceased members, and a list of 11 individuals who had been accepted into membership without establishing a "link" to any ancestor on the tribal lineage base list were received on July 16, 1991 (UHN 1991b, Resolution 1). UHN genealogists indicated that these lists had been part of a larger shipment of genealogical charts covering 6,434 additional, new members sent to their attorney in June 1991. Only the resolutions and "Tribal Lineage Base Lists" had been forwarded on to the BAR; the balance of the shipment was not received until January of 1992 (UHN 1992), eight months into the active consideration period.
The council's resolution adopting this census listing as the tribal lineage base list reads:
in lawful consideration of establishing a sound and fair basis from which to determine, as acceptable, the genealogical lineage of Houma Indian descendence, accept without questions, or reservations, the United States Censuses for the years 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900 as the lawfully established "Tribal Lineage Base Lists" (UHN 1991b, Resolution 1).
In an interview, UHN genealogical staff explained that anthropologist Jack Campisi sent them photocopies of selected pages reproduced from the Federal population census (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1992a). UHN genealogist Mary Lou Townsley then abstracted persons identified by the census enumerator simply as "Indian"(2) (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1992a).
When asked why some families enumerated as "Indian" had been omitted from the typewritten list provided with the resolution, Townsley stated that her handwritten lists had been retyped several times before they were submitted to the BAR (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1992a; UHN 1991a, Resolution 1). Earlier Field Data (1991a) indicates that only families enumerated as "Indian" were extracted, and then only once [even though in succeeding years additional children not previously enumerated may have been present]. A partial analysis of these lists and the census itself shows that the base lists approved by the tribal council in 1991 do not include all "Indians" present in all years, nor do they include families/individuals who were known ancestors of the group when they were identified as anything other than "Indian." Some individuals then identified as "Indian" who were extracted have no apparent descendants in the current membership.
The group's use of the Federal census as a base list is believed to have resulted from their misinterpretation of the BAR's obvious deficiency letter requesting copies of "any former rolls" which might exist (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1992a; Bureau of Indian Affairs 1986 and 1987).
It is unclear whether any of the lists provided were ever actually used by the UHN as "base lists". The "blue" and "yellow" charts (which are base lists one and two) were created from the ancestry and individual history charts prepared for the petitioner. The "Tribal Number Master List" includes persons identified elsewhere by the petitioner as non-Indians. The "Tribal Lineage Base List" (the third and current base list) was abstracted from the 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900 Federal population censuses of Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes and was not itself complete until 1991.
C. Current Enrollment Procedures
Currently, the registration process is initiated by the individual. The person contacts the UHN headquarters and fills out a "registration form" for each member of the family. Next, the applicant is asked to fill out an ancestry chart listing their ancestors as far back as possible. They also fill out an individual history chart. The enrollment staff then verifies the information provided by the applicant against the UHN ancestor index card file prepared by UHN researchers from documents collected. If the applicant can trace back to a UHN ancestor, they will be assigned an enrollment number. No supporting documents verifying the identity of the applicant are necessary.
Currently there is no apparent tribal council involvement in the enrollment process; in earlier years there was. Registration cards were checked by council members; if they knew the applicant, they were approved and sent back to the staff. The staff stamped the chairperson's name on the back as approved. For additional discussion, refer to Section IIIA. It is unclear if this practice is still being used.
According to the staff, the only time an applicant has to provide documentation (birth record, etc.) is if there is "a missing link" (i.e., if they don't know who one of their ancestors is) (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1992a). No resolution appears to have been passed citing documents which are acceptable evidence. An individual may be removed from the membership roll if he/she does not "trace back" to a Houma ancestor: a tribal resolution is not needed (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1992a).
IV. FORMER MEMBERSHIP LISTS
The UHN petition, as initially submitted, contained no former membership lists. Two former lists of members were later provided with the petitioner's response to BAR's obvious deficiency (OD) letter: one list for the Houma Tribes, Inc.; the other, for The Houma Alliance, [Inc.]. A second Houma Alliance list was collected at the UHN office in Golden Meadow, during field research in June 1992. The Houma Tribes, Inc. and The Houma Alliance, [Inc.] were precursors of the United Houma Nation, Inc. (UHN) petitioner (UHN 1985b, 145-147; Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, (HG) 1992a).
A. The Houma Tribes, Inc.
The earliest membership list provided was for The Houma Tribes, Inc. This list, estimated to have been prepared in 1973, includes 2,579 individuals, grouped by parish with the largest representations being from the parishes of Terrebonne (1,074), Lafourche (935), and Jefferson (423). Considerably smaller numbers appear in other nearby parishes. The list includes sixty-three individuals who resided out of state. The balance (111 individuals, 4%) are spread over 13 Louisiana parishes. Within each parish, individuals appear to be grouped into family households, though familial relationships are not stated. Full name, date of birth, and mailing address are provided for most individuals listed.
B. The Houma Alliance, [Inc.]
The second former list provided in the UHN response to the OD letter was a list of the members of The Houma Alliance, [Inc.] (UHN 1976). This list, which contains the names of approximately 1,795 individuals, is believed to have been prepared in 1976--three years after The Houma Tribes' list. Individuals listed appear to be grouped by families and/or households. Familial relationships are not stated. Full name, age in years, and sex are provided. Household addresses are generally expressed only by street name or post office box but without the town, making it virtually impossible to conduct any analyses or compare it with other available lists.
Another Houma Alliance list (1976) was obtained from UHN headquarters during field research. This list, like the list presumably prepared in 1976, also appears to be arranged in families and/or households. No addresses of any sort are provided, only full names and dates of birth. Maiden names are used for women.
V. CURRENT MEMBERSHIP LIST
The UHN's documented petition, as initially submitted June 18, 1985, included a list of names and addresses for only 2,718 adult members (UHN 1985c). This list, prepared in the spring of 1985, contained full mailing address for each member, but no other identifying information. No children were apparent and there was no obvious grouping which might suggest familial relationships.
The size of the list (2,718) was significantly smaller than the BAR had been led to expect. For this reason, and because the genealogical charts of some members indicated UHN membership numbers in the 6000's, the BAR questioned the completeness of the list in the obvious deficiency letter (UHN 1985a; Bureau of Indian Affairs 1986). In response to BAR's OD letter, the UHN petitioner submitted a new list containing 11,223 members (UHN 1988). The list of 11,223 was computerized by the BAR and hereinafter will be referred to as part of the "UHN membership database."
In June 1991, shortly after the petition had been placed under active consideration, the petitioner submitted a supplemental list to their attorney along with supporting genealogical charts (UHN 1992). This new material covered approximately 6,400 new members who had been enrolled since the 11,223 were submitted. These additions represented new births and members omitted from the membership list submitted in 1988. Unfortunately, however, the supplemental list and the accompanying genealogical charts were not forwarded to the BAR until eight months later--after BAR genealogists had questioned the presence of UHN membership numbers in the 17,000's! The missing charts were received by the BAR in January 1992. Delay in transmitting this additional material (a 57 percent increase in the size of the group) caused the Assistant Secretary to extend the period for active consideration.
For the purpose of this report, the group's "current list" of members consists of the 11,223 members submitted in June 1988 and the supplemental list of approximately 6,400 members received in January 1992. The current list includes 17,616 members. Information on an additional 156 members was submitted to the group's attorney two to three weeks prior to the field research in June 1992 (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1992); this material has not been forwarded to the BAR and is not included in this report.
The current list provides the following information for most members: mailing address, full name, sex, date of birth (month, day, and year), social security number (where applicable), UHN membership number, mother's full maiden name, father's name, and for each parent whether they are "H" ("Houma")(3) or "NH" ("non-Houma") (UHN 1988b, Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, (DD) 1992a). Women are listed by full maiden name. Identification of the member's parents as "Houma" or "non-Houma" has been determined by tribal members who staff the tribal headquarters in Golden Meadow (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1992a).
For most families, the current membership list includes at least two generations--sometimes three where younger families are involved. The presence of four generations is estimated to be very rare.
A. General Statistics on Membership
The median age of current members for whom dates of birth are known appears to be around 22+ years. This figure and those in Table 3 below are based on a total membership of 17,554 members which excludes the 62 members for whom no birth year data is known.
AGE RANGE OF CURRENT MEMBERSHIP
|22 and under
23 thru 52
53 thru 72
73 and over
* Does not include 62 for whom no birth year is known
2. Geographic Distribution
Statistics on the geographic distribution of the current membership are estimated, due to lack to time for BAR to follow up on addresses that were obviously incomplete or incorrect. At least 93 percent of the group's members appear to live within the state of Louisiana (74% live in the adjoining parishes of Terrebonne, Jefferson, Lafourche, and St. Mary; 19% live elsewhere in the state); less than 7 percent live outside the state. Information on the parish of residence was not provided and was, therefore, estimated using a road map. When the parish could not easily be determined from the map, persons were placed in the "Other Louisiana" category.
ESTIMATED DISTRIBUTION OF UHN
MEMBERSHIP BY PARISH
St. Bernard Orleans
Other LA parish
Other than LA Total known
The petition provides a chart showing the distribution of 8,715 members of the "Houma Indian Population, by Parish" for the year 1985 based on UHN tribal records (UHN 1985b). Efforts were made to compare the 1985 information provided in the petition with the Table 4 above. However, meaningful comparisons could not be drawn because of the "Other Louisiana" category.
3. Marriage Patterns
Statistics generated from the membership database provide some insight into marriage patterns prevalent among the current membership. The analysis of the data that follows, however, must be seen as a provisional estimate, because the data that the petitioner submitted is limited. It is helpful only as an indicator that endogamy may have been practiced for from 1880 to around 1940 at the level of 50% or greater. Better data would need to be collected, and a more detailed analysis would have to be performed before this could be asserted with certainty.
The data shown in Table 5 below has been calculated from the membership database of 17,618 (the total number before a few corrections were made). The figures do not add to 17,618. Information in the database concerning the ancestry of individual members was obtained from the UHN membership list itself. Determinations regarding the ancestry of members parents (i.e., "H" for "Houma" and "NH" for "non-Houma") are believed to have been made by the UHN genealogical staff.
UHN MARRIAGE PATTERNS
BASED ON THE PARTIAL DATA SUPPLIED BY THE PETITIONER
|Born Between||Birth date Range, Current UHN Members||Percent with two Houma parents||Percent with one Houma parent only|
|1885 - 1899 1900 - 1909 1910 - 1919 1920 - 1929 1930 - 1939 1940 - 1949 1950 - 1959 1960 - 1969 1970 - 1979 1980 - 1989 1990 - 1992||21
* Birth year for at least 62 members is missing from database.
The petition states that:
Since 1960 there has been a greater tendency for Houmas to marry whites, but this has not been a significant [p]ortion of the population. The majority of Houma continue to marry other members of the tribe"(UHN 1985b, 130).
Statistics gathered from the petitioner's membership list contradict this statement. Based on the membership database, the tendency for "Houmas" to marry whites appears to have been prevalent since at least the 1950's and to have been on a steady increase since the early 1900's (1910-1919). The table above illustrates that it was more common for members born in decades prior to 1950 to have two "Houma" parents (57%). In decades beginning with the 1950's, the tendency to marry other "Houmas" dropped significantly to 42%. Thus the tendency beginning in the 1950's was to marry non-Indians. This tendency has
continued, and by the 1980's had almost doubled (83%) what it was in the 1940's (43%).
Table 3 also reflects the fact, contrary to what the petition states (UHN 1985b, 130), that the portion of the membership which is marrying out may be significant and, further, that the majority of the members may not have been marrying other members of the group since the 1940's.
VI. LIST COMPARISONS
Meaningful comparisons between the Houma Tribes list and the two Houma Alliance lists are virtually impossible because information provided differs. One list provides complete mailing addresses, another gives only street or post office box, while the third gives no address at all. One list expresses age in years, while the others provide birth information as month, day, and year. Two give the full maiden name for women, the other lists women by married name without reference to maiden name. Because of problems like this, it was very hard to confirm that individuals on one list were the same as people on another list.
Notwithstanding the above inconsistencies, a very limited comparison was attempted, using 25 of the more visible members(4) of the current tribal council and five other members as the sample (obviously, this is not a random sample and cannot be used to extrapolate to the petitioning group as a whole). The analysis showed that 29 of the 30 individuals checked appeared on the current UHN membership list. One council member could not be identified on any list. Of the 30, two persons could be identified on the lists of all three organizations; five appeared on both the UHN list (the current membership list) and the Houma Tribes list; and five others showed up on the UHN list and one of the two Houma Alliance lists. No individual appeared on both Houma Alliance lists. Seventeen appeared only on the current membership list.
Our conclusion was that very little overlap was found between the available lists, even for the more prominent members.
VII. RECORDS UTILIZED
To verify information presented in the petition, research was conducted in a variety of different repositories and records. Staff genealogists made two separate field trips to repositories in Louisiana. The first trip, in December 1991, was based on data for the 11,223 members available at that time; a second trip was made in June, 1992, after the data covering the approximately 6,400 new members had been reviewed and computerized. Extensive research was also conducted in Washington, D.C. area repositories, in particular the National Archives and the library of the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). Wherever possible, however, research focused on original records. Where published information was relied upon, some effort was made to verify the information at the original source. The following paragraphs will briefly discuss some of the major collections and the extent to which they were utilized.
A. Original Records
1. Courthouse Records
Records in four parish courthouses (primarily Terrebonne Parish and Lafourche Parish, but also Ascension and Assumption parishes) were researched in an effort to verify information provided and/or cited in the petition. The largest quantity of relevant material was found in Terrebonne Parish where several of the group's earliest ancestors had acquired and disposed of land and other possessions beginning in the early 1800's. Where documents collected were written in French, translators were employed to prepare English transcripts. All documents were reviewed for genealogical content. Relevant information was then extracted and posted to BAR's "pink charts"(5) for further analysis. Many of the documents which have been utilized in analyses and evaluations for this report are discussed at some length in section VIII, entitled "Establishing Ancestry as Indian."
2. World War I Draft Records
World War I draft registration cards were consulted to see how ancestors of the petitioning group had identified themselves or been identified by Selective Service registrars when they registered for the draft in 1917 and 1918 (U.S. Selective Service 1917-18).
The draft registration cards for 15 surnames(6) which are significant or common to UHN genealogy were pulled and reproduced from the total cards filed from the parishes of Terrebonne and Lafourche. Approximately 365 individual cards were reproduced from the total cards filed: 203 from Terrebonne Parish; 162 from Lafourche Parish. The names of these 365 persons were then compared with the BAR's pink charts to see if any could be identified as ancestors of the UHN. Forty-four men were identified with reasonable certainty. Another nine were "perhaps" ancestors, but could not be positively identified based on available information.
Three separate registrations had been held for the draft.(7)
A slightly different registration card had been used for each of the registrations. In each case, the front of the card was physically completed by a registrar based on information provided by the individual being registered. The person registering was then asked to read what the registrar had written on the front of the card and to attest to the accuracy of the information recorded by signature or mark.
The question regarding race was handled differently on each of the three registrations. The firstregistration card simply asked the registrant to specify which race but suggested no terminology. The second form asked the individual to specify the race by striking out the inappropriate lines or words and offered five possible alternatives of which the fifth was "I am a noncitizen or citizen Indian."(8) The forms used for the first and second registrations provided for a corner of the form to be torn off if the person was of African descent. While some registrars did tear corners, others placed a "C" in the lower corner of the form. The third form provided boxes to check race as "White," "Negro," "Oriental," or "Indian," with "Indian" further classified as to "citizen" or "noncitizen." The back of the card included space for the registrar to describe the physical appearance (height, build, color of eyes and hair, disqualifying disabilities) and to record a personal comment not seen by the registrant. The registrar then certified:
that my answers are true; that the person registered has read or has had read to him his own answers; that I have witnessed his signature or mark, and that all of his answers of which I have knowledge are true, except as follows (emphasis added) . . . (U.S. Selective Service 1917-19).
Comments extracted from the backs of the 365 draft cards reproduced by BAR's researchers reflect confusion on the part of registrars over the meaning of such terms as "mixed breed," "mixed blood," "mixed," and "mix Indian," and whether these terms included persons of some "Indian" heritage. Examples of this confusion follow.
On cards of persons who identified themselves as "Indian" on the front of the card, the registrar commented later (on the reverse):
"Registered as Indian but is mixed breed."
"Born of white & Indian parents."
On the card of a person who identified himself as "Mix Indian" on the front, the registrar commented:
"Father is of Indian, mother is of Indian and Caucasian."
On the card of a person self-identified as "Caucasian," the registrar commented:
Only one of the four cards noted above could be reliably matched by BAR to an ancestor of the UHN; the other three were "perhaps" UHN ancestors, but could not be found on the UHN lists.
On one typewritten card (third registration, 1918) where the individual had registered as "white," the registrar drew a line through the block and checked "Negro." On the back of the card, the registrar wrote, "My opinion is that he is a mixed breed such as one at Golden Meadow" (U.S. Selective Service 1918, Louisiana, Lafourche Parish, Augustin Verdin, Serial Number 2432, Order Number A459, Sep 12). The registrar's comment raises an unanswered question as to his--and other registrars'--interpretation of the term "mixed breed." This registrar's comment also suggests his awareness of a community of "mixed breeds" at Golden Meadow.
An analysis of answers to questions relating to race for the 45 men who could be identified by BAR with any reliability as ancestors of the UHN shows them distributed by race as follows:
* Positive identification on BAR's pink charts
** Three of the twenty were identified by registrars as being of "Mixed Blood."
*** One was identified by a registrar as descending from "Indian/Negro."
Another nine persons were determined to be "perhaps" descended from a UHN ancestor. Five of the nine identified themselves as "Indian" (1), "Mixed Indian" (1), "Mixed" (2), or "white" (1). The card of the individual who identified himself as "Indian" had been annotated by the registrar as "mix" [sic].
If the classifications in Table 6 are regrouped to consolidate terms which could reasonably include persons of some "Indian" heritage, the heading "Some Indian Blood" might then look like this:(9)
|How Identified # Men|
|Some Indian Blood
* Positive Identification on BAR's pink charts
3. Census Records
For the purpose of this report, genealogists used the Federal population census schedules to try to locate prominent UHN ancestors in order to verify information provided by the petitioner. The census was also used to determine whether individuals who could be identified with the group had been identified as "Indian" and, if so, of what tribal origin. For discussions of residential patterns in the census, see the accompanying Historical and Anthropological reports.
Genealogical research initially focused on Federal population schedules of Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes found in National Archives Record Group 29, Records of the Bureau of the Census. The majority of the petitioning group's ancestors lived in these two parishes. Some schedules for other parishes were also researched; refer to the bibliography for a complete list of censuses searched (U.S. Bureau of the Census).
It was often impossible to positively identify families in the census with families sampled on BAR's pink charts, thus making it difficult to draw conclusions from available information. These difficulties may have resulted because the individual/family was residing outside Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes when the census was taken and was enumerated elsewhere, or was simply not enumerated at all. Where they could be identified, it was sometimes with unrecognizable family members who had widely different names. In some instances they were enumerated 20 years apart, making family composition almost impossible to pin down.
Where specific individuals/families could be found, racial identification was often inconsistent. The following example (albeit a non-Indian) is fairly typical of the problem found. Manette Renaud appears in the 1850 census as "M" (Mulatto), as "Ind" (Indian) in 1860, and as "W" (White) in 1880. She could not be found in the 1870 census. Manette Renaud classified herself as white when applying for the War of 1812 pension of her last husband, Etienne Billiot (U.S Veterans Administration 1878b), and it can be verified that her parents were of French ancestry (Catholic Church, Diocese of Baton Rouge, 1982, ASC-5, 276; ASM-2, 99; ASC-2, 49; ASM-1, 14).
The separate "Indian schedules" used with the 1900 and 1910 Federal population censuses to enumerate households composed predominantly of persons identified as "Indian" were not found for Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes (Twenty Censuses 1979, 39; U.S. Bureau of the Census 1900a, 1900c; 1910b, 1910c). When available, these schedules can often provide valuable information about individuals and sometimes the group as a whole.
No Indian census rolls are known to have been prepared by agents of the Bureau of Indian Affairs of persons living in Terrebonne or Lafourche Parishes (Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940, 1973).
Of the "Indian progenitors" identified by BAR researchers (Houma Courteau, Marie Gregoire, and Jeanet) (for more information refer to discussion at Section VIII), only Rosalie, the daughter of Houma Courteau, and possibly Houma Courteau himself, could be identified in the census. In 1860, Rosalie is listed as Mrs. J. Billiot age 75, living with her grandchildren, Marguerite Verdin, age 17, and Eliza Verdin, age 25; all three are identified as "Indian" (U. S. Bureau of the Census 1860c, 6th Ward, p.66, household 475).(10) In 1880 "Rosalie Billiot," identified as "Indian," is listed as mother-in-law in the household of James Fitch, husband of her granddaughter, Clodine (1880 U. S. Bureau of the Census 1880c, p. 323, household 290).
Rosalie's father is believed to be "Courto, a Savage" listed on the 1810 census (U. S. Bureau of the Census 1810, page 161, line 25). The census was recorded in English, therefore "a savage" clearly meant Courto was an "Indian." Marie Gregoire (m. Alexander Verdin) and Jeanet (m. Joseph Billiot) could not be found.
In general, census information concerning UHN families sampled by the BAR genealogists was found to be quite inconsistent and not always reliable with respect to family composition or racial identification.
This finding is not inconsistent with findings of other scholars regarding use of the census for ethnic identification purposes:
Any assumption of ethnicity on the basis of census data from a single year (or any other single document) may err. Determining the ethnic identity of any family labeled free people of color (or f.p.c.) on any record invariably requires exhaustive research in the widest-possible variety of resources (Mills 1990, 264).
B. Published Sources
1. Hebert's South Louisiana Records
In addition to research in original records in four Louisiana courthouses, Reverend Donald J. Hebert's 12-volume series entitled South Louisiana Records was utilized extensively. The series contains abstracts of births, baptisms, marriages, and deaths recorded in Catholic and non-Catholic churches of the parishes of Lafourche and Terrebonne. The series also includes abstracts of marriages, successions, and some Original Acts recorded in the courthouses at Thibodaux (Lafourche Parish) and Houma (Terrebonne Parish). A volume of South Louisiana Additions and Corrections was published in 1993 (Terrebonne Genealogical Society 1993).
2. Published Church Records
Church records for St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans dating from the early to mid-1700's were reviewed in their published format, Sacramental Records of the Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and were used to verify relationships. These records in their published format reportedly do "not include information about race or legitimacy, although race can often be deduced when the country of origin, e.g., Senegal or Ireland, is listed" (Woods and Nelson 1987, 1:ix).
The Diocese of Baton Rouge was separated from the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 1961. This diocese includes the 12 civil parishes located directly north of Lafourche and Terrebonne, including the civil parishes of Ascension and Assumption. Records created prior to 1870 have been brought to the archives of the newly-created diocese and the diocese is now reported to have the "largest collection of Catholic colonial registers in Louisiana outside of St. Louis Cathedral (New Orleans)" (Catholic Church, Diocese of Baton Rouge 1978, i). Published records from this diocese were examined in the series entitled Diocese of Baton Rouge Catholic Church Records(refer to bibliography for citations to individual volumes).
3. International Genealogical Index (IGI)
A microfiche index published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka LDS, an accepted acronym, or Mormons) was also relied upon where more official sources were not available. A research outline distributed by the Family History Library of the Church describes the International Genealogical Index, commonly referred to as the IGI, as
a worldwide index of about 187 million names of deceased persons. It lists birth, christening, marriage, and Latter-day Saint temple ordinance information. It does not contain records of living persons. Most of the names in the index come from vital records from the early 1500s to 1875. Other names were submitted by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for temple ordinance work. Individuals listed in the index are not joined in family groups or pedigrees . . . [although] the index is published by The Church . . . names are not limited to Church members or their ancestors (LDS 1992, 1).
The microfiche is arranged by state and thereunder by surname. Citations to the IGI appearing in this report (e.g., LDS-IGI, LA 1173) are to the state abbreviation (LA) and the fiche card number (1173). Entries on pages reproduced on the fiche card are arranged alphabetically by surname.
VIII. ESTABLISHING ANCESTRY AS "INDIAN"
The purpose of genealogical research for acknowledgment purposes is to verify the petitioner's claims that members are of Indian descent and further that they descend from an historical tribe, or tribes which combined and functioned as a single autonomous entity. While other racial admixtures may also be present within a group, the focus of the genealogist's research is on whether the members of the group descend from Indian ancestors and, if so, from which tribe or tribes. The BAR genealogist of necessity begins with the information provided by the petitioner and sets out to verify this information using materials contained in the petition and, when necessary, expands upon the petitioner's information using standard genealogical research methodology and available records.
The petition states that many "Houma" Indian women married Frenchmen from 1800 to 1840 giving the tribe French family names such as Billiot, Dardar, Dion (Dean), Dupre, Gallet, Naquin, Parfait, Verdin, Gregoire, and Verret, which then became essentially "Indian" names (UHN 1985b, 35). Other researchers have also commented on social distinctions attributed to certain names which are commonly found within the petitioner's membership.
Swanton identified three families "known by the French names 'Couteaux,' 'Billiout,' and 'Verdine,'" who were, he said, all that was left after other Houma families "went back north" in the late 1700's [ca. 1786]. He further stated that the remaining "Houma" of Terrebonne and Lafourche descended from these three "families or possibly bands" (Swanton 1911, 292).
Speck said that, "family patronyms indicate that the collective Houma band stems from a limited group of progenitors" - Billiot, Verdin, Diane (or Dean), Parfait, Gregoire, and Verret (Speck 1943, 212-213). Writing more recently, Stanton concurs: "Surnames are often indicators of an Indian background. Some of the more common names which are either exclusively Indian or tend to be Indian are: Billiot, Deon (Dion), Gregoire, Naquin, Parfait, and Verdin" (Stanton 1971a, 86). Stanton writes that "by 1795 at least three whites, all bearing French surnames, had settled in the southern portion of Terrebonne Parish, all three married to Indians" (Stanton 1979, 97). BAR could not verify the settlement date or determine which three whites Stanton was referring to in this passage.
All of the above surnames are present in the membership today. Some names like Billiot (2,314 members) and Verdin (1,029) are more common, followed then by Dardar (752), Naquin (631), Parfait (556), Verret (460), Creppell (279), Fitch (267), Dion (247), Chaisson (192), Foret (186), Solet (171), and Gregoire (162). Forty-one percent of the current UHN membership use one of the above surnames.
BAR genealogical research initially focused on verifying the Indian ancestry of the "three original families of Houma" identified by Swanton--Couteaux [sic], Billiout [sic], and Verdine [sic] (Courteau, Billiot, and Verdin) (Swanton 1911, 292). Research was then expanded to include other families, such as Dardar, Naquin, Solet, Verret, Dion, Creppell, Gallet, Foret, and Fitch, which petition materials had also identified as ancestors of the UHN. The starting point for BAR's work was always the petitioner's blue charts and supporting genealogical charts.
Three of the progenitors of the UHN could be identified as "Indian" with reasonable accuracy in official (Federal, state, and local) records: Houma Courteau, a Biloxi Indian (and his children, including his daughter Rosalie Courteau, wife of Jacques Billiot), and Indian women whose tribal affiliation is not known: Marie Gregoire ("femme sauvage"), wife of Alexander Verdin; and Jeanet ("an Indian woman"), wife of Joseph Billiot (brother of Rosalie's husband Jacques). It is from these three "Indian progenitors," who were married to non-Indians(11) and appear to have founded three independent family lines, that most UHN members descend. Virtually nothing is known about the ancestors of these early families. Appendix A is a diagram which shows how these three "Indian progenitors" relate to one another.
The following sections will discuss the evidence to identify these UHN progenitors as "Indian." A discussion of what is known about the specific tribal affiliation of these "Indian progenitors" will be found in section X entitled, "Establishing Tribal Heritage/Which Tribe?"
A. UHN's "Indian Progenitors"
The UHN often discuss their ancestors in terms of their relationship to Rosalie Courteau, an important historical leader. This section of the report will begin with Rosalie Courteau and her relations before proceeding to Marie Gregoire and Jeanet. Other UHN progenitors whom the petitioner did not claim to be Indian, or for whom Indian ancestry could not be established, are handled under the subheading "Other UHN Ancestors."
1. Rosalie Houma Courteau
Documentation of Rosalie's ancestry as Indian is based primarily on the Indian ancestry of her father, Houma Courteau/Abbe/Iacalobe, who is clearly identified as "Indian" in official records (see section VIII.A.1.a). Rosalie also appears as "Indian" in the 1860 and 1880 Federal population censuses (U. S. Bureau of the Census 1860c, p.66, household 475; U. S. Bureau of the Census 1880c, p. 323, household 290). "Indian" ancestry for Rosalie's mother has not been documented, although BAR genealogists believe it is likely (see VIII.A.1.b).
Information concerning Rosalie Courteau's date and place of birth is somewhat conflicting. The petitioner's blue charts place her date of birth as simply 1787 (UHN BC1). An abstract of Rosalie's baptism which appears in Hebert's South Louisiana Records (Hebert 1978a, 161) indicates that Rosalie was baptized on January 27, 1867, at the age of 80; this agrees with the petitioner's information. The International Genealogical Index (IGI) lists her date of birth as June 24, 1787, in Houma, Terrebonne Parish (LDS-IGI, LA 1173). The IGI entry shows the information to have been submitted by an LDS church member, but does not indicate the source of the member's information. Oral history reports her place of birth as Biloxi, Mississippi (Billiot, Charles and Emay 1978; Billiot, Charles 1979).
Conflicting information regarding Rosalie's date of birth appears in several places. In her application for a widow's pension based on her husband's (Jacques Billiot) service in the War of 1812 (U.S. Veterans Administration 1878a),(12) Rosalie gives her age as 83 (i.e., born about 1795). In the 1880 Federal population census of Terrebonne Parish, "Rosalie Billot" is enumerated as "Indian;" her age is recorded as 102 years (i.e., born about 1778) (U.S. Census 1880c, 6th Ward, p. 323, household 290). Published Montegut Church records give her age at death in 1883 as 130 years, placing her year of birth at about 1753 (Hebert 1981c, 242). The original of the Montegut Church record was not available for review.
Rosalie's oldest child (Alexander) was born in 1813 (LDS-IGI, LA 463); her youngest child, Jacques Constant, was born in 1835 (Hebert 1978a, 68). When this 22-year span is used in conjunction with the 1787 birth date, we find her marrying at age 21 and bearing children from age 26 to 48. Using the 1795 date of birth calculated from Rosalie's pension application places her marriage at age 13. Her children would have been born when she was between 18 and 40 years of age. The 1787 birth date seems more likely than the 1795 or 1753 dates, given Rosalie's 1808 marriage date, since it would place her marrying at age 21, rather than 13 (1795) or 55 (1753).
The 1778 birth date calculated from the 1880 census seems quite unlikely since it would mean that she gave birth to her last child, Jacques, when she was 57 years old. The 1753 birth date calculated from the age at death reported in Hebert's work (Hebert 1981c, 242) is undoubtedly in error. Using this date (1753) would place Rosalie marrying at age 55 in 1808 and bearing children when she is between the ages of 60 and 82--well beyond the years when a woman is physically able to bear children. The normal child bearing years for a woman in this area and time period were probably between 18 and 45 years--the maximum possible range is considered to be between 12 and 50 years.
From Rosalie's pension application we learn that she married Jacques Billiot on April 15, 1808, at Bayou Terrebonne (U.S. Veterans Administration 1878a). She describes herself as a "maid" [unmarried] at the time; Jacques was the widower of Charlotte Louis. This is the first and only indication of a prior marriage for Jacques. The petitioner's blue charts (UHN BC2; UHN BC3) make no reference to Jacques' marriage to anyone other than Rosalie Courteau. Rosalie's marriage date is confirmed in the IGI, but as was the case with the information regarding her date of birth, this information was also submitted by an LDS church member and the source of the information is not reported in the published IGI entry (LDS-IGI, LA 1173). Hebert, when reporting her death in 1883, notes that she was married to Jacques Billiot, but gives no date for the marriage (Hebert 1981c, 242).
Sacred Heart Church records that report "Rosalie Houma" [sic] died January 24, 1883, and was buried the following day in the cemetery of St. John the Baptist, at Bayou Terrebonne (Sacred Heart Church 1964; see document under Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1992b (Certificate of Death abstracted April 17, 1964, from Sacred Heart Church records). However, other field data and oral history provide conflicting information, suggesting her burial may have been in Dugas Cemetery just below Montegut (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1991b; Courteau, Jimmy and Albertine 1978). Oral history states that Rosalie was buried in a brick cave at the back of the Dugas Cemetery. Emile Billiot (Rosalie's nephew) is said to have taken the marker and buried it (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1991b; Dion 1981). A stone marker was placed at the front of the Dugas Cemetery in recent years (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1991b). The inscription reads:
|Rosalie Courteau (Houmas)
June 4, 1787
Jan. 24, 1883 Wife of Jacques Billiot
In the 1968 intestate succession(13) of "Rosalie Houma Courteau, widow of/and Jacques Billiot"--entered some 85 years after her death--her date of death is reported as having occurred one day later (January 25, 1883) (Terrebonne Parish 1968).
In summary, although Rosalie's reported date of birth ranges from as early as 1753 to as late as 1795 (both dates calculated), BAR believes the 1787 date to be most likely. Information concerning Rosalie's marriage to Jacques Billiot in 1808, and her death in 1883, is generally consistent.
a. Rosalie's Father, Houma Courteau/Abbe/Iacalobe. Rosalie's father appears in official records under several different names, but most consistently as "Courteau." These names, when viewed collectively, clearly identify "Courteau" as Indian and as Rosalie's father.
Identification of Courteau as an Indian is found in two deeds from the 1820's. In the earliest of these deeds a "Touh/Tough-la-bay alias Courteau of the Beloxy Nation" purchases land from a Jean Billiot (Terrebonne Parish 1822e). Several years later, identified now as "Loup La Bay called Courteau Indian of the Beloxy Nation," he conveys the same land to Alexander Verdin [husband of Marie Gregoire] (Terrebonne Parish 1829g). Both names, Touh/Tough-la-bay and Loup La Bay, are obviously Indian and are undoubtedly one-and-the-same person. Neither deed makes any reference to Rosalie.
Direct identification of Rosalie as the daughter of "Loup/Toup la [B]ay alias Courteau" comes from Rosalie herself and is found in a land transfer from Rosalie to Clement Carlos (Terrebonne Parish 1856).
Further evidence that Courteau is the father of Rosalie and the husband of Rosalie's mother, Marianne, is also found in official parish records. Identification of Rosalie as the daughter of Marianne is found in an 1841 transfer of land from Marianne, identified as the wife of Courtau [sic] and the sister of Louis le Sauvage, to her "daughter" Rosalie (Terrebonne Parish 1841a). Three years earlier, in 1838, "Houma dit(14) Courteau" and wife Mari Ann/Marie Anne sold land to a Louis Verret (Terrebonne Parish 1838). In the 1838 document, the grantor's name is written as "Houma Courteau" in the text of the document and is reversed to read "Courteau + Houma" in the signature block. (The "+" in the signature block indicates the individual signed the document with his mark rather than a written signature.) Use of both names (Houma Courteau and Courteau Houma) within the document has been interpreted to mean that the names were used interchangeably.
Additional evidence of family relationships can also be gathered from the records concerning the probate of the estate of Francois Iacalobe (Terrebonne Parish 1844), which identifies Iacalobe as the deceased husband of Marianne and the father of four children:
Francois Courteau/Abe/Iacalobe (deceased);
(Marie Mingoloi is identified as Francois' widow; their children are Julien and Josephine Iacalobe)
(Marguerit is identified as the mother of Filarum/Philarum).
These relationships are consistent with other materials, both provided by the petitioner and gathered by BAR researchers.
The following list attempts to display visually the information concerning Courteau which was collected from the official documents discussed above:
1822 Touh/Tough-la-bay alias Courteau of the Beloxy Nation
1829 Loup La Bay called Courteau Indian of the Beloxy Nation
1838 Houma dit Courteau and Courteau Houma [as husband of Marianne Courtau]
1841 Marianne Courtau [as wife of Courtau and mother of Rosalie]
1844 Iacalobe [as husband of Marianne and father of four Iacalobe children: Francois Courteau/Abe, Rosalie Benby(?); Antoine, and Marguerit Iacalobe]
1856* Loup/Toup la [B]ay alias Courteau [father of Rosalie]
* Rosalie identifies herself as daughter of Loup/Toup la [B]ay alias Courteau
Based on the foregoing, there seems little question but that Courteau (aka Houma, Loup la Bay, Toup/Touh/Tough-la-bay/Iacalobe) was Rosalie's father and was an Indian.
In addition to the names mentioned in the paragraph above, some writers have identified Rosalie's father, variably, as Joseph Abbe, Shulushumon, and Louis de la Hussaye alias le Sauvage ("the Indian"). Anthropologist John R. Swanton identified Rosalie's father as "Joseph Abbe, a Biloxi medal chief (also called Shulushumon)" (Swanton 1911, 292). This information is reported to have come from Rosalie's daughter, Felicité Billiot, who was age 78 when Swanton interviewed her in 1907. Felicité is reported to have said that "her grandfather, Shulu-shumon or, in French, Joseph Abbe, and more often called 'Courteaux' was a Biloxi medal chief (emphasis added) . . . " (Swanton 1911, 292).
Swanton's field notes, however, show this quote to have come from Bartholemy Billiot, Felicité's brother, and not Felicité herself (Swanton 1906; UHN 1985b, 44). Elsewhere in Swanton's field notes, Rosalie's father is also identified as a Chitimacha chief (Swanton n.d.c).
Other references to Rosalie's father as Joseph Abbe (aka Shulushumon) appear in works by Janel Curry (1979a, 17) and Max Stanton (1979, 97). Such references appear to rely on the field notes and writings of Swanton (Swanton 1911, 292; Swanton n.d.b) who obtained his information from Bartholemy Billiot.
Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) educator Ruth Underhill stated that Rosalie was "pure Indian" and the "daughter of the Indian chief Louis de la Hussaye, alias le Sauvage" but did not give the source of her information (Underhill 1938a, 14). No evidence was found to substantiate a parent-child relationship between Rosalie and any one by the name of Louis de la Hussaye/le Sauvage. Official records do establish a sibling relationship between Rosalie's mother, Marianne, wife of Houma Courteau, and Louis Le Sauvage who died without issue (Terrebonne Parish 1841a; Terrebonne Parish 1854).
In 1943, Anthropologist Frank Speck stated:
The last chief, apparently a hereditary officer, is remembered to have been one Delahoussay (Dalahousie) Couteau (Courteau). He is an historical figure mentioned by Swanton, and pointed to by the Houma as the last social unifier whose death (about 1800) left the people minus leadership (Speck 1943, 213).
No source is cited for this information. Whether Speck believed a relationship to exist between Rosalie and this "Delahoussay Couteau" cannot be determined from his writings.
The 1810 Federal Population Census of Lafourche Interior Parish, the precursor to present-day Terrebonne Parish, enumerates one "Courto, a Savage" (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1810, page 161, line 25). Courto is listed as male, "of 45 [years] and up," with six children. The census was recorded in English leaving no question that the words "a Savage" after his name meant he was an Indian. Based on available information we can only speculate that this Courto could have been Rosalie's father. His age would fit with a birth year of 1787 for Rosalie; his name is a phonetic spelling for Courteau; he was Indian, as was Rosalie's father. The only information which casts some doubt on such a relationship is found in Speck's writings wherein he states (without citing any backup documentation) that the last hereditary chief, Delahoussay Couteau, died about 1800--10 years prior to the census (Speck 1943, 213).
The petition narrative at page 32 speculates that a "Louis de la Houssaye Courteaux, alias le Sauvage" was most likely the second Houmas chief present at the meeting between Chac-Chouma and Governor Claiborne in 1806. Volume 5, page 275 of Rowland (1917) is cited as the basis for this information (UHN Pet., Narr., p. 32). An examination of the cited page, however, shows no reference--direct or indirect--to anyone by the name of "Louis de la Houssaye Courteaux, alias le Sauvage." The petitioner should recheck the source of this information and provide the BAR with an accurate citation.
Janel Curry appears to enlarge on the statements of Swanton and Speck, identifying Rosalie's mother as the sister of "chief Louis de la Houssaye" (Curry 1979a). She goes on to claim that "leadership went matrilineally from Louis de la Houssaye [sic] to his sister's daughter" (Curry 1979b). Terrebonne Parish conveyance records (Book I, page 157) are cited as the basis for this statement. A search of the cited conveyance records shows the documents on page 157 of Book I to record two land transfers, neither of which refers to a Louis de la Houssaye or to the passage of leadership of any kind. One document records the transfer of land from Marianne, wife of Courtau [sic] and sister of "Louis le Sauvage," to her daughter, Rosalie Courteau (Terrebonne Parish 1841a); the other records Rosalie's transfer of land acquired from Louis le Sauvage to a Mister Paroy(?) (Terrebonne Parish 1841b). Nowhere in any of the official documents reviewed for this report was any evidence found to corroborate claims that Louis de la Houssaye and Louis le Sauvage were one-and-the-same individual.
The petitioner's blue charts identify Rosalie's father as Joseph Houma Courteau (UHN BC1). Published church records, probably extracted from the original church record, identify him simply as Joseph Courteau (Hebert 1978a, 161). The entry published in the IGI also describes him as Joseph Courteau; this entry may have been copied from a published source such as Hebert or may have been entered from family information provided by a church member (LDS-IGI, LA 1173).
b. Rosalie's siblings.
The petitioner's blue chart (UHN BC1) lists Rosalie, Francois, Antoine, Philomene, and Josephine (Fine) as the children of "Joseph Houma Courteaux" and "Anne Marie Pierre (aka Marie Sauvage)." Rosalie, Francois, Antoine, and Marguerite can be documented to be the children of Iacalobe (Houma Courteau/Abbe) and Marianne using the succession of Francois Iacalobe (see discussion at VIII.A.1.a). Based on this same succession, Philerom Courteau/Billiot, Josephine (Fine), and Julien Courteau are the grandchildren of Iacalobe (Houma Courteau/Abbe) and Marianne.
Philerom was born February 10, 1812, and baptized December 17, 1818 (Catholic Church. Diocese of Baton Rouge, ASM 4:238). Josephine was born about 1833 according to the 1860 census where she appears as "Fine" with her mother Marie [(Migolois) Courteau, now Billiot] (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1860e, Terrebonne Parish, p. 67, household 480 ). Julien appears as Julius, age 21, with his mother Marie [(Migolois) Courteau, now Billiot] in 1850; in 1860, he is listed as Julien Billiot, age 33, as the head of a household containing his sister Fine's children (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1860c Terrebonne Parish, p. 67, household 48).
The Federal population census schedules also show "Julien Houma," an Indian, age 38 in 1870 (born about 1832) (U. S. Bureau of the Census 1870b, page 25, household 202) and "Philerome Billiot," an Indian (male), age 66 in 1860 (born about 1794) (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1860c, p. 418, household 646).
Although a 1854 land transfer identifies Marianne Courteau as the "deceased mother" of Antoine, Julien and Fine [Josephine] Courteau, and Philerom Billiot/Courteau (Terr Par 1854), this parent/child relationship is not supported by papers in the succession of Francois Iacalobe. The succession identifies Julien, Josephine, and Philerom as grandchildren of Marianne and Antoine as a son.
Additional documentation to support the Indian ancestry of Rosalie's sister, Marguerite Courteau, appears in a series of birth and death records found in the basement of the Terrebonne Parish Courthouse and later published in Terrebonne Life Lines. A "Declaration of Death" given by "Jean Billiou" [Jean Billiot, the son of Jean Baptiste [Jean-Pierre] Billiot and Marie Enerisse] regarding the death?(15) of Marguerite Courteau, identifies her as an "idian [sic] woman." She is reported to have died on August 6, 1822. No tribal heritage was recorded for Marguerite. This declaration of death and the series of declarations of birth which follow, all given September 7, 1822 by Jean Billiot, identify five children born to him and Marguerite Courteau between 1812 and 1819(16) (Shannon 1985, 65-67). Descendants of these children who were born to Jean Billiot and Marguerite Courteau, his "Indian" wife, would be counted as "Indian" in the same manner that descendants of "Jeanet an Indian woman" and Marie Gregoire are being counted except for the fact that it has not been possible to identify them on the current UHN membership list and none of them appear in either of the samples (systematic random or non-random).
Based on the above evidence, Rosalie, Francois, Antoine, and Marguerite are believed to be the children of Houma Courteau/Abbe/Iacalobe and of "Indian" ancestry. Evidence to establish Marianne as "Indian" or as "Anne Marie Pierre" was neither provided by the petitioner nor found by BAR researchers.
c. Rosalie's mother, Marianne Courteau, and Marianne's brother, Louis Sauvage/le Sauvage.
Although numerous documents refer to Marianne, they provide little personal information about her other than that she was the wife of Houma Courteau (also written Courteau Houma); the sister of Louis le Sauvage "who died without issue;" the mother of Rosalie, the "wife of Jacques Billiot" (Terrebonne Parish 1841a; Terrebonne Parish 1838; Terrebonne Parish 1854), and as the widow of Iacalobe and mother of Rosalie, Antoine, Francois Courteau/Abe, and Marguerit Iacalobe (Terrebonne Parish 1844). Swanton's informants, who were children of Rosalie, stated that their grandmother, named "Nuyu'n", was later baptized Marion (Swanton 1911, 292; Swanton 1906, 197).
The petitioner's blue charts identify Rosalie's mother as "Anne Marie Pierre (aka Marie Sauvage)" (UHN BC1). However, only the surname "Pierre" appears in Hebert's extract of Rosalie's baptismal record (Hebert 1978a, 161). No official abstract (i.e., prepared by the church based on its own records) was provided to verify this information. Documentary evidence to substantiate the name "Marie Sauvage" as an alias could not be found. The petitioner's reference to Marie Sauvage is believed to derive from the fact that Rosalie's mother was the sister of Louis Sauvage/le Sauvage.
The only other record provided by the petitioner to substantiate "Anne Marie Pierre" as the name of Rosalie Courteau's mother was a marriage entry form used by the LDS Church to enter data into the IGI (International Genealogical Index) (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, (MLT) 1992a; LDS-IGI, LA 1173). The marriage entry form notes the information provided came from an unspecified War of 1812 pension record. Lacking any information to the contrary, BAR researchers believe this citation refers to Rosalie Courteau Billiot's application for a widow's pension (U.S. Veterans Administration 1878a). An examination of Rosalie's pension application, however, shows it to contain no information about Rosalie's parents.
Based on documents recorded in Terrebonne Parish records, Marianne's date of death can be approximated to have occurred between April 1, 1845 (Terrebonne Parish 1844) and June 30, 1854 (Terrebonne Parish 1854). Rosalie is identified as Marianne's daughter in an 1841 land transfer from Marianne to Rosalie (Terrebonne Parish 1841a). Marianne is also described as the "deceased mother" of Julien, Antoine, and Fine [Josephine] Courteau, and Phileram Billiot/Courteau in an 1854 deed.(17) No mention is made of Rosalie. The deed transfers land originally confirmed and registered to Louis Sauvage, but which had been acquired by the Courteaux as an inheritance from the death of their "deceased mother Marianne sister of Louis Sauvage [who] died without children" (Terrebonne Parish 1854). This land appears to be the same land that was confirmed to Louis Sauvage in 1813 (ASP 1834a, 388).
BAR genealogists speculate that Marianne may have been of Indian descent. However, no direct evidence was provided or found to confirm this. It seems unlikely that an Indian man would have married a non-Indian woman in the late 1700's due to the marriage patterns of that time period. In addition, Swanton's informants report that Marianne had an Indian name, "Nuyu'n," when she was baptized, which, along with her sibling relationship to Louis Sauvage/le Sauvage (whose name could be translated as Louis, "the Indian") would suggest that she may have been of Indian heritage. However, even when taken collectively, this circumstantial evidence is not sufficient to credit Marianne with Indian ancestry at this time.
Discussions found in the petition narrative (UHN Pet., Narr., p. 32) and in the report by Underhill (Underhill 1938a, 14) which link Marianne's brother, Louis Sauvage/le Sauvage, to Louis de la Houssaye/Hussaye could not be confirmed.
In addition to the Louis Sauvage/le Sauvage who is mentioned in land records previously discussed in conjunction with Rosalie and Marianne, there was also an Indian named Louis Sauvage living in Point Coupee Parish in 1806. A fair amount of research was expended by BAR researchers in an effort to establish whether or not the Louis in Point Coupee (ASP 1834a, 388), and Louis, the brother of Marianne who is noted in Terrebonne Parish land transactions (Terrebonne Parish 1841a; Terrebonne Parish 1854), were one-and-the-same man. Given the presence of other persons of the same surname in the general area who were not identified as Indian, it seems questionable that they were the same person, given the distance between the two parishes both by land and by water. Additional research in Louisiana land records could possibly establish this link.
d. Rosalie's Husband, Jacques Billiot.
Rosalie is known to have been married only once and then to Jacques Billiot, the son of Jean Billiot and Marianne Enerisse [Iris] (U.S. Veterans Administration 1878a).
Jacques' date of birth is unknown. He is reported to have "died intestate [without a will] in the Parish of Terrebonne on May 16, 1867," according to a 1968 petition to appoint a provisional administrator to handle the settlement of Rosalie's and Jacques' combined estate (Terrebonne Parish 1968). The 1968 petition for an administrator states that Jacques' death was recorded in Terrebonne Parish on May 29, 1868, as entry No. 9648. The May 16, 1867, death date for Jacques conflicts with Rosalie's own testimony wherein she states that Jacques died September 28, 1858 (U.S. Veterans Administration 1878a). Jacques' supposed death record,(18) noted as entry 9648, was not submitted by the petitioner or viewed by BAR researchers. Therefore no explanation for the discrepancy can be put forth. However, lacking any obvious explanation for the almost nine year difference in the two dates, it is reasonable to place more weight on the 1858 date provided by Rosalie, because she was in a position to have had firsthand knowledge and she was providing the information closer to the time the event occurred. The 1868 date reported in the 1968 petition for the appointment of a provisional administrator was entered almost 100 years later.
Rosalie's application for a widow's pension (U.S. Veterans Administration 1878a) states that Jacques was a widower at the time he and Rosalie were married in 1808. His previous wife is reported to have been Charlotte Louis; no information other than Rosalie's testimony was found to corroborate this information (U.S. Veterans Administration 1878a). Hebert's twelve volumes of South Louisiana Records were searched for further information on Jacques' marriage to Charlotte, but nothing was found.
Available evidence shows Jacques Billiot to be a non-Indian (see also discussion of Jacques' parents, Jean Baptiste Billiot and Marie Enerisse under "Other UHN Ancestors," VIII.B.2).
2. Marie Gregoire
No reliable information was found or collected concerning Marie Gregoire's parents or her date of birth, nor has any record of her date of death been found (Westerman 1984, 19; Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1991a). Based on "Fire Brands" (cattle brands) and deeds recorded in Terrebonne Parish, her death is estimated to have occurred after April 30, 1828, but before April 22, 1829 (Terrebonne Parish 1828; Terrebonne Parish 1829b, 1829c, 1829d, 1829e).
According to information supplied by the UHN petitioner, Marie Gregoire reportedly married Alexander Verdin on February 1, 1800 (UHN Pet., ancestry charts of Narciss Naquin, Rose Lovel, and Joseph A. Verdin; UHN resource card for Marie Gregoire). Circumstantial evidence that this union occurred appears in the 1860 application for a marriage license of their son Jean Baptiste Verdin and Arcene Gregoire (Terrebonne Parish 1860). The license identifies Jean Baptiste Verdin as the "legitimate issue of the marriage" between Marie Gregoire and Alexander Verdin; Arcene Gregoire is recorded as the "legitimate issue of the marriage" between Joseph Gregoire and Constance Jaceau. All parties in this document are identified as free people of color.
The 1829 will of Alexander Verdun identifies Marie Gregoire as a femme sauvage 'Indian woman' (Terrebonne Parish 1829f; Miller 1992; Westerman 1984). Westerman states that Marie Gregoire was a "Houmas Indian of the Biloxi nation" but cites no evidence to prove this point (Westerman 1984, 20). No information was provided by the petitioner or found by BAR researchers to identify the name of the tribe from which Marie Gregoire descended.
a. Marie Gregoire's Husband, Alexander Verdin.
The baptism of Alexander Verdun [Verdin] was recorded on November 1, 1771, in St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, along with the births and baptisms of three of his siblings (Cathedral St. Louis 1771, Alexander Verdun; Cathedral St. Louis 1758, Marie Verdun; Cathedral St. Louis 1767, Jean Baptiste Verdun; Cathedral St. Louis 1769, Jean Pierre Verdun). All are identified as children of the legitimate marriage of Jean Adam Verdun and Anne Dauphine who, in 1767 and 1769, were noted as residents of New Orleans (Cathedral St. Louis 1767, Jean Baptiste Verdun; Cathedral St. Louis 1769, Jean Pierre Verdun).
Oral histories state that the Verdins originally came from "overseas" (Verdin 1978), or from Germany, and that "some married Indians like Gregoire" (Dion 1981). Alexander Verdin's will identifies him as a "native of" (i.e., born in) what was then Jefferson Parish (Terrebonne Parish 1829f). Two translations prepared by parish officials from the early French Acts describe transfers of land from Billiots, identified as men of color, to Alexander Verdin, a white man (Terrebonne Parish 1822b; 1822c). The marriage record of Alexander's son, Jean Baptiste Verdin (Terrebonne Parish 1860), and the petitioner's blue charts (UHN BC24; UHN BC25) identify Alexander Verdin as a free man of color. No documentation was provided or found to identify Alexander Verdom as "Indian."
b. Marie Gregoire's Children.
The petitioner's blue charts (UHN BC25) list eight children born to the union of Alexander Verdin and Marie Gregoire--Pauline, Melanie, Ursain, Felicite Marguerite, Jean Baptiste, Victor, Eulalie, and Joseph. Only seven of these children are mentioned in Alexander's will [Joseph is not mentioned] (Terrebonne Parish 1829f). Alexander's estate is divided into seven equal shares which are left to the children of Marie Gregoire, deceased. The children are described in the will by given name only (Eulalie, Pauline, Melanie, Ursin, Felicite Marguerite, Jean Baptiste, and Victore); each of the children is identified as a free person of color, which would be appropriate for children of an Indian-white union in Louisiana at this time. Although the children's surnames were not included in the document, all children were, nonetheless, individually indexed in the conveyance book under their mother's surname, Gregoire (Terrebonne Parish 1822f). A parent-child relationship between Marie and five of her seven children (Melanie, Felicite Marguerite, Victore, Jean Baptiste, and Ursin) can also be verified using land records (Terrebonne Parish 1829a, 1829b, 1829c, 1829d, 1829e).
Westerman speculates that "the marriage of Alexandre Verdun and Marie Gregoire will probably never be found" and that the reason Alexandre wrote his will the way he did,
not calling the heirs his children (but most of them are proven children from church records), was the fact there was a law that offspring of mixed races could not legally inherit property. Their parents' marriage was probably according to Indian customs, both parties appear to have been faithful to the marriage commitment, but it was not recognized bywhite [sic] law (Westerman 1984, 20).
"Interracial marriages were prohibited in Louisiana between 1807 and 1972," except for the period from 1870 to 1894, when laws prohibiting miscegenation (marriage or cohabitation between different races) were temporarily repealed (Dominguez 1968, 57). From 1810 to 1920, Louisiana legally classed Indians as "people of color." This stemmed from a ruling by the Louisiana Supreme Court in 1810 which defined "people of color" to include persons who "may be descended from Indians on both sides, from a white parent, or Mulatto parents in possession of their freedom" (Louisiana District Court 1810, Adele v. Beauregard, 1 Mart.; Dominguez 1968, 34; Stahl 1934, 303; Mills 1978, 14). It was not until 1920 that Indians were legally identified as "non-colored" by the state of Louisiana (Dominguez 1968, 34).
An examination of the relationship between Alexander Verdin and Marie Gregoire within the framework of the above laws helps to bring their relationship into perspective. Based on available records, a long-term relationship appears to have existed between Alexander Verdin, a white man, and Marie Gregoire, an Indian (who by Louisiana law was then classified as a person of color, or "POC").(19) Children born to that relationship were identified as persons of color by virtue of their mother being a "POC." Because marriage between different races was prohibited, Alexander and Marie's marriage was not legal under Louisiana law after 1807. Thus, the children born to their relationship were considered illegitimate.
Although laws against miscegenation were repealed for the 24-year period from 1870-1894, this was not within the lifetimes of Alexander and Marie. Alexander did not survive long enough to "legitimate" his children born to Marie in the eyes of Louisiana law. Consequently, donations of land made by Alexander in 1829 to his "illegitimate" children of color by Marie Gregoire were later successfully challenged by other Verdin heirs in Robinett, et al. v. Verdun's Vendees(Louisiana Supreme Court 1840, 914 La. 542; Terrebonne Parish 1829a, 1829b, 1829c, 1829d, 1829e). At that time, Louisiana law was especially stringent on inheritance issues dealing with the illegitimate issue of color of a white man. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, giving the following reasons:
Children of color (from a white person) are not allowed to prove their paternal descent when they have not been legally acknowledged; but this may be shown by proof against them, by the adverse party, in order to annul a sale made to them as a disguised and simulated donation to incapable persons (Louisiana Supreme Court 1840, 914 La. 542).
So, children of color (from a white person) unacknowledged, cannot inherit or receive by donation inter vivos or mortis causa(20), even one fourth of the ancestor's estate; and, if by disguised sale or donation, an attempt is made to give them a greater amount of property than can be legally disposed of, it is not reducible to the disposable portion, but absolutely null (Louisiana Supreme Court 1840, 914 La. 542).
Louisiana law regarding "persons of color," interracial marriages and inheritance is verycomplex. Much has been written on the subject.(21) One author summarizes the problem by stating, "More about the people of color in Louisiana might be written. It is a theme too large to be treated save by a master hand" (Stahl 1934, 376).
"Indian" ancestry has been established for Marie Gregoire based on her identification as a femme sauvage 'Indian woman' in the will of Alexander Verdin (Terrebonne Parish 1829f). The tribe of Marie's Indian heritage is as yet unknown. Because Indian ancestry has not been documented for Alexander Verdin, the seven children who descend from that union (i.e., all but Joseph) establish their Indian heritage from their mother, Marie, and not from Alexander.
c. Joseph Gregoire, Marie's Brother?
The ancestor card of Joseph Gregoire at the UHN headquarters and three of the petitioner's ancestry charts (Joseph A. Verdin, Arcene Gregoire, Jackson Gregoire) suggest a possible sibling relationship between Marie Gregoire (wife of Alexander Verdin, mother of Jean Baptiste Verdin) and Joseph Gregoire, aka Jean-Baptiste Gregoire,(22) (father of Arcene Gregoire). Such a relationship could not be confirmed.
Circumstantial evidence to suggest a possible sibling relationship between Marie and Joseph/Jean-Baptiste can be found in the marriage license of Jean Baptiste Verdin and Arcene Gregoire, in which Marie Gregoire and Joseph Gregoire each appear as a parent and possibly contemporaries (Terrebonne Parish 1860). A series of cattle brands (called "fire brands") recorded in Terrebonne Parish offer additional information to suggest a sibling relationship (Terrebonne Parish 1828). Table 8 abstracts fire brand records to show the placement of Alexander and Marie and six of their known children (all identified as children of Marie) in a block, followed immediately by Joseph Gregoire with no stated relationship. Joseph is followed by Pierre Chaisson, who frequently served as a witness for Alexander Verdin. The fact that the fire brands were recorded consecutively on the same day suggests that the registrants may have traveled to the courthouse together. The placement of Joseph with respect to the family of Alexandre and Marie and the fact that he and Marie have the same surname suggests a possible relationship, although none is specified (Terrebonne Parish 1828; Hebert 1978b, 16-17).
FIRE BRANDS RECORDED 4-30-1828, TERREBONNE PARISH
|Alexandre Verdun [sic]
|"dau of Marie Gregoire"
"dau of Marie Gregoire"
"son of Marie Gregoire"
"dau of Marie Gregoire"
"son of Marie Gregoire"
"son of Marie Gregoire"
[relationship not stated]
The names of several other "Gregoires" appear in UHN genealogy and in early Louisiana records. Familial relationships between Marie Gregoire (the wife of Alexander Verdin) and these other Gregoires could not be documented. None of the other Gregoires noted were identified as Indian by outsiders.
3. Jeanet, an Indian woman
Evidence to establish the Indian ancestry of Jeanet comes from the January 12, 1811, record of her marriage to a "Joseph Billaux" [Billiot], which identifies her simply as "Jeanet, an Indian woman" (Lafourche Parish 1811; Hebert 1978a, 68). The record provides no information as to Jeanet's surname or tribal heritage.
UHN materials identify "Jeanet" as "Janet Houma", wife of Joseph Billiot, with a daughter named Modeste, born July 2, 1812 (UHN BC18a). Evidence was not provided by the petitioner, nor was evidence found by BAR, establishing her surname. Nor was her tribal affiliation established.
Modeste Billiot's December 1818 christening record at Assumption Church in Plattenville, Louisiana, identifies her parents as "Joseph Billiau" and "Jeanne" (no surname) (Catholic Church. Diocese of Baton Rouge 1982, 100; Hebert 1978a, 68; LDS-IGI, LA 461).
That "Jeanet, an Indian woman" from the Lafourche Parish marriage record, "Jeanne" from the Plattenville church christening records, and "Janet" from the petitioner's blue charts are one-and-the-same person is highly likely. No conflicting evidence was provided by UHN or found by BAR researchers.
One of the petitioner's ancestry charts also identifies a "Joseph Biliau," married the same day (January 12, 1811) to a "Jeanette Courteau" (UHN Pet., Ancestry chart of Lucien Fitch, p. 2), with a daughter named Marguerite Bellome (born 1824, died at age 105 [c. 1929]). The surname "Bellome" is significant because the "Modeste Billiot" who is the daughter of Joseph and Jeanet also appears in official records as "Modeste Bellhomme" of Terrebonne Parish who married Joseph Prevost (Hebert 1974b, 41 [April 13, 1856](23)). The published abstract of the record of their marriage in Houma Church on April 13, 1856, lists Modeste as the daughter of "Jeanette Courteand"; the father is recorded as "name not given" (Hebert 1974b, 41 (April 13, 1856)). The actual church record was not seen by BAR.
The petitioner's materials connect this same Modeste Billiot with an early UHN ancestor named Antoine Courteau. Based on available information, however, BAR researchers conclude that there were probably two Modestes in the area at the same time and that the Modeste who married Antoine Courteau was not the daughter of Joseph Billiot and "Jeanet, an Indian woman." This conclusion was based on the fact that the women appeared to be giving birth to two independent families at the same time and because available records show the relationship between Modeste Billiot and Joseph Prevost to have been one of long standing (Terrebonne Parish 1842).
Available evidence shows Jeanet's husband, Joseph Billiot, to be a non-Indian (see also discussion of Joseph's parents, Jean Baptiste Billiot and Marie Enerisse under "Other UHN Ancestors," VIII.B.2).
B. Other UHN Ancestors
A large number of the UHN's male progenitors were Frenchmen who came to Louisiana in the 1700's and are reputed to have married Indian women. That a large number of the UHN's male progenitors were Frenchmen can be substantiated by the genealogical record; that they married Indian women has yet to be established. For a listing of most of the UHN progenitors and their ethnic origins, refer to Appendix B. Origins cited are based on information provided by the petitioner or from official documents collected during field research. The key to abbreviations used in the chart appears at the end of the chart.
1. Jean Baptiste Billiot & Marie Enerisse, Parents of Jacques and Joseph Billiot
A large portion of the UHN membership trace their ancestry to Jean Baptiste Billiot (referred to in one document as as Jean Pierre Billiot) and Marie Enerisse who were, according to the petitioner, "with the tribe in 1787" and are identified as the parents of Jacques and Joseph Billiot, the respective husbands of Rosalie Houma Courteau and "Jeanet, an Indian woman" (UHN 1985b, 35; UHN BC2; UHN BC3).
Marie's surname has been spelled many different ways in the records utilized for this report; virtually all variations can be shown to refer to the Marie who was the wife of Jean Baptiste Billiot and the mother of Jacques and Joseph Billiot. Some of the more common spelling variations(24) include Marie Enerisse, Mariane Erice, Mary Eric, Marian(n)e Eris, Marianne Iris, Marie Iris, and Marie Neriss/e.
That Jacques and Joseph are children of Jean Baptiste Billiot and Marie Enerisse can be documented in a variety of sources. The following are just a few examples from official parish records:
o A deed dated August 27, 1822, from Jacques Billot, a man of colour, to Alexander Verdin for land to be sold to his (Jacques') mother, Marianne Eris (Terrebonne Parish 1822a). Similar deeds exist for his brothers Charles "Billeau" (Terrebonne Parish 1822c) and Jean Billot, Jr. (Terrebonne Parish 1822d).
o A quitclaim deed dated October 31, 1823, from the Billiot brothers (Joseph, Jacques, Charles, Jean, Etienne, and Pierre) to their brother Michel who cared for their deceased mother, Marianne Iris, during her last sickness (Terrebonne Parish 1823).
o The marriage record of Joseph Biliot to Magdelaine Gregoire, in which Joseph is identified as the son of Jean Biliot and Mariane Eris (Terrebonne Parish 1826).
o Donations in 1855 from Miss Adelaide Billiot (Terrebonne Parish 1855a) and Pierre Billiot (Terrebonne Parish 1855b) to their brother, Jacques Billiot, of claims they had to the succession (estate) of their mother and father, Jean Billiot and Mary Eric(e).
According to the petition narrative, proof that "Jean Billiot and Marie Nerisse" were "of at least partial Indian parentage" is found in a document recorded on page 485 of Terrebonne Parish Conveyance Book 1 (UHN 1985b, 35). A copy of the document in question was not provided. Inquiries to Parish authorities produced a copy of the document cited in the petition as Book 1:485; it had no apparent connection with UHN ancestors. Subsequent inquiries produced a photocopy of a deed from Terrebonne Parish Conveyance Book T, page 485, which is believed to be the document intended (Terrebonne Parish 1813). This document is a handwritten transcript of a deed which was initially recorded in Lafourche Interior Parish in 1813, prior to the formation of Terrebonne Parish (Lafourche Parish 1813). Terrebonne was formed from "Lafourche Interior" in 1822; the remaining portion of the original parish then became known simply as Lafourche Parish (Everton 1982, 122-123).
The deed recorded as Conveyance Book (COB) T:485 transfers land from Marianne Iris to Jean Baptiste Verdin. It is not clear from the document whether the Jean Baptiste Verdin named in this deed is the son of Marie Gregoire and Alexander Verdin or the brother of Alexander.(25) Marianne Iris is identified as a free woman of color (Terrebonne Parish 1813). The only information in the document which could be interpreted as evidence of "partial Indian parentage" is a reference to Marianne Iris as a "FWOC" (free woman of color). If this were the onlyinformation describing Marianne's heritage, one could speculate that she might have some Indian heritage because the definition of people of color at that time legally included Indians (Louisiana District Court 1810, Adele v. Beauregard, 1 Mart.; Dominguez 1968, 34). However, it is not the only evidence.
Other available evidence of the ancestry of Jean Baptiste Billiot and Marianne Iris comes primarily from sources discussed below:
o Documents in the 1809 probate files of Lafourche Parish concerning the estate of Jean Baptiste Billau [Billiot] strongly suggest that many of the items in his estate were sold to his children (Lafourche Parish 1809). Family relationships must be established using other available documentary evidence (Terrebonne Parish 1823; Terrebonne Parish 1827). Items sold to children of Jean Baptiste and Marie are typically followed by Marie's name and the word "Caution"(26) suggesting that Marie would make good on the sale if the individual [her child] did not. The relationship between Marie and the child is not stated. The children are not identified as to race in the probate file.
Marie/Marianne is described in these probate documents both as a free woman of color and a free negress (Lafourche Parish 1809). Others purchasing from the estate of Jean Baptiste Billau include Courteau/Pourteau, "an Indian." Marianne Iris is identified three times as a free negress on the same page with "Pourteau an Indian" indicating that, at the least, the person recording the sale was distinguishing between Indians and Negroes even though both might have been classified as Free People of Color in other contexts (Lafourche Parish 1809; Dardar 1992).
o One year later, a "Marian Billa/o__" appears in the 1810 census of Lafourche identified as a "Free negress 60 year old" [who] "has land pays tax has 10 children" (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1810, 161, line 24). "Courto a Savage" is enumerated on the next line (1810, 161, line 25). The census is in English, strongly suggesting that "Courto a Savage" means that "Courto" was an Indian. As was the case in the 1809 inventory of sale discussed above, it appears that the census enumerator was making a clear racial distinction between Marian Billiot and Courto.
o Court testimony in 1917 in H.L. Billiot v. Terrebonne Board of Education describes Marianne as a native of Santo Domingo, which is described as an "Early name of Dominican Republic and name of earliest settlement on Hispaniola" (Webster's New Geographical Dictionary 1972, 1060). Hispaniola is the island in the West Indies, on which the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic are now located.
o Fischer (1968, 137) reports that "Marie is said to have been Spanish, and a one-time recipient of a Spanish land grant." The public land claim (No. 370) of Marie Nerisse was confirmed in 1812 based on a regular warrant of survey from Governor Miro in 1788. The claim notes that the "land was "inhabited and cultivated by her on the 1st day of October, 1800" (ASP 1834b, 433).
o Oral history also credits Marianne with Spanish ancestry (Billiot, Charles/Emay 1978; Lovell 1979; Molinere 1978) and as "Pure Indian" (Billiot, Alex. 1979).
o Oral history regarding the ancestry of Jean Baptiste [Jean Pierre] Billiot quite consistently identifies him as French (Billiot, Alex. 1979; Billiot, Ludovic 1979; Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1992b). Information about Jean Baptiste Billiot obtained from ancestor cards at UHN tribal headquarters in Golden Meadow and confirmed by field research (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion, 1991a) describes him as born in 1766 in France, married to Marie Enerise, died 1798 at sea (Field Data, Colliflower and McMillion).
Available evidence shows Jean Baptiste Billiot and Marie Enerisse (Marianne Iris), the parents of Jacques, Adelaide, Michel, Joseph, Pierre, Charles, Etienne, and Jean Billiot, to be non-Indians, therefore their children must also be non-Indians. UHN blue chart #2, which diagrams the family of Jean Baptiste/Jean Pierre Billiot and Marie Enerise, erroneously includes two children (Alexander and Francois) who descend from a later generation and fails to include Jean/John who can be clearly identified in other documents (Terrebonne Parish 1823 and 1822d). It also includes Agnese [Agnes], a daughter of John Baptiste Billiot and Marie Enerisse who is not mentioned in the documents discussed above (UHN Pet., BC#2).
2. Louis de la Houssaye Courteaux, alias le Sauvage.
Information concerning the origins of the name "Louis de la Houssaye Courteaux, alias le Sauvage" comes primarily from four separate interviews with one couple and an "Indian Identification Form" completed by the husband.
Through each of the interviews, the couple consistently identified Rosalie's father as "Louis de La Houssaye" (three times) or "De la housaye Courteau" (one time) (Billiot, Charles and Emy/Amy Billiot 1978a and 1978b; Billiot, Charles 1979). They stated that Rosalie's father had changed his name and that papers on de la Houssaye had been found in New Iberia (Billiot, Charles 1979). No documentary evidence was found or provided to corroborate the name change.
The "Indian Identification Form" completed by Charle [sic] Billiot in 1940 refers to a "Houmas Reservation" in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana,(27)
and mentions an allotment (number 19) to "Luice Dellahouse Corto" (U.S. Department of the Interior 1940). In answer to the question regarding where allotted, Charles Billiot answered "Terrebonne Parish." How the form should be interpreted is unclear. The allotted land referred to appears to have been located in Terrebonne Parish and not on a Houmas Reservation in St. Mary Parish (see below). What significance should be attached to the name "Luice Dellahouse Corto" is not obvious on the face of the form, since elsewhere on the form "Charle" states that his claim is for an oil field in Terrebonne Parish that belonged to his grandmother, but had been taken away (U.S. Department of the Interior 1940).
Another interviewee identified Rosalie as the "daughter of the chief, De Ba LaHoussaye Courteaux" but did not know more about him (Billiot, Alex 1979). Rosalie's father was also identified as "Louis de Sauvage" in another interview. However, the name "de Sauvage" was suggested by the interviewer and confirmed by the interviewee (Billiot, Sylvest 1978).
The petition asserts that "Louis de la Houssaye Courteaux, alias le Sauvage" was a chief, that "he acquired land for the tribe from the Spanish government in 1787" (emphasis added), and that these statements are "supported by federal and parish documents" which are cited as "American State Papers 2:432-433" and "Terrebonne Parish conveyance Records I:157-158" (UHN 1985b, 32). The citation to the American State Papers appears to refer to public lands settled by Louis Sauvage prior to 1803 and subsequently confirmed to him in 1812 by certificate No. 339 (ASP1834b, 432).
The citation to Terrebonne Parish conveyance records at pages 157-158 in Book I refers to land originally confirmed to Louis Sauvage (ASP 1834b, 432; No. 339). The first of the two documents found in Terrebonne Parish Conveyance Records on pages 157 and 158 is a deed transferring the land originally confirmed to Louis Sauvage from Rosalie Courteau to a Mister Paroy (Terrebonne Parish 1841b). The second document is Marianne Courteau's acknowledgment that she had given this parcel of land to Rosalie Courteau, her daughter (Terrebonne Parish 1841a). Marianne is identified in the document as the sister of Louis le Sauvage.
None of the documents cited above includes an alternate name for Louis Sauvage (such as de la Houssaye or Courteau); none describes Louis as a chief. There is no language in any of these documents to suggest that the land is being held for the tribe. The deeds do not specify how or why Rosalie obtained the land other than that it came from Louis le Sauvage via Marianne, Rosalie's mother.
No evidence could be found to establish any connection between a Louis de la Houssaye Courteau and Louis Sauvage/Louis le Sauvage. Nor was evidence provided or found to substantiate a father-daughter relationship between Louis Sauvage/Louis le Sauvage or Louis de la Houssaye Courteau and Rosalie Houma Courteau. Based on available documentary evidence, Rosalie's father was Houma Courteau/Abbe/Iacalobe (aka Tough la Bay and various other spellings) (see earlier discussion at VIII.A.1.a). Louis Sauvage was Rosalie's uncle (her mother's brother) (see previous discussion at VIII.A.1.b). Thus, the assertion that Louis de la Houssaye Courteaux (aka, le Sauvage) was Indian has not been substantiated. Nor is the assertion that he was the father of Rosalie supported by available evidence.
3. Margaret/Marguerite Houma/Bellome.
Information concerning the ancestors of "Margaret Houma" comes from the oral history interviews of three individuals who identify themselves as Margaret's great-great-grandchildren (Billiot, Cyril n.d.; Billiot, Cyril 1978; Lovell 1979; Molinere, Lindsay 1978). Margaret Houma is described by one informant as the daughter of a "Choctaw chief" (Molinere, Lindsay 1978) and by another as the daughter of the "chief of the Houmas" (Billiot, Cyril n.d.; Billiot, Cyril 1978). She is said to have died at the age of 111; no year of death or birth is given (Billiot, Cyril n.d.). A third informant (Lovell 1979) is reported to have said of Margaret's parents that one was Choctaw, the other Comanche. Based solely on the placement of this information on the ancestry chart which accompanies the oral history interview, we can only speculate that Margaret's father was the Choctaw and her mother the Comanche.
One oral history interview infers that Rosalie Houma Courteau and "Marguerite Houma" were sisters. When the interviewer pursued the relationship further, however, the informant stated that they were not sisters because they had different fathers (Billiot, Cyril n.d.). It is not clear from the interview whether they did or did not have the same mother.
A sibling relationship between Rosalie Courteau and Margaret/Marguerite Houma/Bellome could not be verified in official records. The Marguerite Courteau/Iacalobe who was the sister of Rosalie died in 1822 (see discussion under VIII.A.b, Rosalie's Siblings).
Margaret Houma is reported to have married Francois Fitch, Sr., "a Frenchman," during the "Confederate period" (Billiot, Cyril 1978). However, the petitioner's blue charts for the Fitch family show "Francois Fitch I" as married to "Rosalie Marguerite Bellome" (UHN BC38). Rosalie Marguerite Bellome is reportedly identified as "Indian" on her death certificate, but no certificate was provided. Francois is also identified as being "from Oklahoma" (UHN Pet., Individual History Chart of Francois "Sambo" Fitch I). Francois's granddaughter also states that he was from Oklahoma (Verdin, Azelie Clodellia Fitch 1979). When queried as to which Indian nation he was from she said simply "Just Oklahoma." As to whether he was Indian, she replied "Oh ya, he said he was Indian." Francois is reported to have died in 1939 at age 115 years [i.e., born about 1824]. His son, also known as Francois (Frank) Fitch, is reported to have been identified as Indian on his death certificate. The certificate was not seen by BAR researchers.
A Frank Fitch, age 50 [i.e., born about 1810], appears in the 11th ward of the 1860 Federal Population Census of Terrebonne Parish (Houma post office) with wife Marguerite, also 50, and six children ranging in age from 10 to 21 (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1860c, p.48, household 341). None of the children are documentable descendants of the Frank Fitch family listed on the UHN blue chart for the Fitch family (UHN BC38) or the Individual History Chart provided for "Francois 'Sambo' Fitch I (from Okla.)." On the 1860 Federal census, all members of the family, including Frank and Marguerite, are enumerated as born in Louisiana. All are recorded as "M" (Mulatto) as opposed to other choices (white or black). Three households immediately following the Frank Fitch household are recorded as "Ind" (Indian), indicating that the enumerator was making some distinction as to race. At the bottom of the page, the enumerator has written "Indians and Negroes."(28)
Information concerning the Indian ancestry of Margaret Houma, Francois Fitch, and Rosalie Marguerite Bellome could not be verified. A relationship between Rosalie Marguerite Bellome and Modeste Bellhomme/Billiot could not be established, given available information.
4. Marie Migolois.
Marie Migolois [Migoulois, Mingoloi, Margoulois] was married first to Francois Courteau/Abe/Iacalobe who died about 1844 according to succession records in Terrebonne Parish (Terrebonne Parish 1844). She married second to Jean/John Billiot, who was by then the widower of Marguerite Courteau/Iacalobe. No documentary evidence was provided or found to establish "Indian" ancestry for Marie Migolois. Descendants of her marriage with Francois Courteau/Abe/Iacalobe can be counted among those who are believed to have some Indian ancestry based on Francois' established ancestry (see discussion under VII.A.1.b). However, descendants of Marie Migolois' marriage with Jean/John Billiot (son of Jean Baptiste Billiot and Marie Enerisse) cannot, at present, be counted among those who are believed to have some Indian ancestry because such ancestry has not been established for either Marie Migolois or Jean/John Billiot. For additional discussion of Jean/John Billiot, refer to VII.B.1, Jean Baptiste Billiot & Marie Enerisse.
IX. THE GENEALOGICAL ROOTS III DATABASE
AND SAMPLING TECHNIQUES
Because time constraints and staffing limitations did not permit computerization of all of the genealogical data provided, sampling techniques were used. All names found on the UHN's "blue charts" were entered into the genealogical database first because they accounted for a large portion of the earliest three or four generations of the group's ancestors.
A. Preliminary Non-Random Sample
A preliminary non-random sample consisting of 25 living persons was manually selected from the 18 feet of ancestry and individual history charts of the UHN's 17,616 current members. In selecting this group of 25, BAR genealogists made an effort to include representatives of all important families, age groups, and residential communities. Families classed as "important" included those that were historically as well as presently involved in politics, large families, and/or surnames that were or are still common to the UHN's history and genealogy. Collectively, the ancestry of these 25 individuals included almost all of the UHN progenitors identified on the group's blue charts.
To expand the scope and size of this genealogical database further, current tribal council members, their alternates, and two ex-officio members of the council (i.e., former UHN chairpersons) and their ancestors were added. A few others from the general membership were also added. Four council members and/or their alternates could not be included in the database for lack of sufficient information to identify them in the 18 feet of genealogical charts. Table 9 shows the distribution of the non-random sample by age and residence.
DISTRIBUTION OF NON-RANDOM SAMPLE
OF UHN MEMBERSHIP BY AGE AND PARISH
|Age Range - #persons
10-19 - 1
20-29 - 3
30-39 - 3
40-49 - 4
50-59 - 2
60-69 - 4
70-79 - 3
80-89 - 1
90-100 - 2
age unkn - 2
|Parish - #persons
Terrebonne - 10
Jefferson - 5
Lafourche - 3
St. Mary's - 3
Plaquemines - 2
out-of-state - 1
no address - 1
Worksheets were then printed from the genealogical database created for the non-random sample to show how the individuals descended from the group's earliest ancestors/progenitors. Because these worksheets are printed on pink paper, they are referred to as BAR's "pink charts."
The pink charts were then annotated and footnoted with genealogical data obtained from other sources, such as copies of original and published courthouse and church records, information from oral histories and other materials provided with the petition or collected during field research. Thus the pink charts were used to consolidate information about individuals from a variety of sources into one location where it could be analyzed and evaluated more easily.
B. Systematic Random Sample
In addition to the non-random sample, a systematic random sample was independently drawn from the total membership of 17,616. In order to compute the size of the systematic random sample it was necessary to rely on the percentage of those who descended from Indian ancestry from the preliminary non-random sample (refer to Table 10). It was estimated that a 1% sample would give a 4.1% plus or minus margin of error.
A systematic random sample of 176 individuals was then drawn. The petitioning group had assigned a registration (membership) number to each individual registered. There was no discernable pattern to the numbering system. A skip interval of 100 was established based on the size of the sample. The beginning number was drawn randomly from the first 100-member registration numbers and was "81"; therefore, subsequent numbers in the sample, using an interval of 100, were 181, 281, 381, etc.
Next, the lineage for each individual in the systematic random sample was traced back to the original ancestors using the genealogical information provided by the petitioner. All information in the Roots III database regarding an individual's ancestry was taken from information provided by the petitioner on their blue charts, individual history charts, and/or ancestry charts.
After the lineage of those included in the systematic random sample was entered into the database, the sampling results showed that 84% of the individuals sampled could be expected to document some Indian ancestry (refer to Table 10). A 95% level of confidence was used, with a 5.4% plus or margin rate of error. The percent of the individuals sampled who can be expected to have some "Indian" ancestry is between 78.6% and 89.4%. Based on these results, we estimate that 14,797 of the 17,616 individuals who are registered as members of the group would be able to trace descent from one or more of the UHN's three documented "Indian progenitors."
Roots III Database Composition
||Sample* Size||Percent traced to Indian|
* Current living members
The random and non-random samples differed by only one percentage point.
X. ESTABLISHING TRIBAL HERITAGE (WHICH TRIBE?)
This section will examine what is or is not known about the tribal heritage of the three progenitors of three independent family lines present in the UHN membership for which "Indian" ancestry could be documented.
A. Houma Courteau (Tough-la-Bay, alias Courteau of the Beloxy Nation)
Evidence of Houma Courteau's tribal heritage is conflicting. Terrebonne Parish land records from the 1820's identify him as being of the "Beloxy Nation" [Biloxi] (Terrebonne Parish 1822e; Terrebonne Parish 1829g). In the early 1900's, Swanton's informants described him as a Biloxi medal chief (Swanton 1911, 292). Elsewhere in Swanton's field notes, he is identified as a Chitimacha chief (Swanton n.d.b). With regard to language, Swanton recorded "about 78 words and expressions in the Houma language" noting that it was "nearly pure Choctaw" (Swanton, n.d.b), but more recent scholarship considers these words to have originated in Mobilian Trade Jargon, which was the pidgin lingua franca among Indians of various language groups along the Gulf Coast, from Louisiana to Florida (Drechsel to DeMarce, 1993). Oral history collected in the 1970's says that his daughter Rosalie was the last of the "Houma" (Billiot, Charles 1979).
The most consistent contemporary documentary evidence appears to describe Houma Courteau as Biloxi. Late sources indicate he was possibly Chitimacha or Choctaw.
B. Marie Gregoire (wife of Alexander Verdin)
No information was provided or found concerning the tribal heritage of Marie Gregoire. Her parents are unknown. Marie's Indian ancestry was derived from her identification as a femme sauvage 'Indian woman' in the will of her husband Alexander Verdin (Terrebonne Parish 1829f).
C. Jeanet (wife of Joseph Billiot)
No information was provided or found concerning the tribal heritage of Jeanet. Her parents are unknown. Jeanet is described in her marriage record simply as "an Indian woman" (Lafourche Parish 1811).
D. Other "Indian" Claims
1. Marianne, wife of Houma Courteau
Oral history concerning the possible tribal heritage of Rosalie's mother, Marianne Courteau, comes from Swanton's informants, who in one place described their grandmother Marianne/Marion as an "Atakapa" from Texas, but elsewhere said that she came from Mobile (Swanton 1911, 292; Swanton n.d.a; Swanton n.d.b). One of these informants also indicated that she was an Acolapissa (Swanton n.d.). No other evidence of Marianne's Indian ancestry was provided or found. If Marianne Courtau [sic] (aka Marion) could be documented to be of Indian descent, then Rosalie Courteau (daughter of Houma Courteau and Marianne), could possibly have been of Biloxi and some other tribal heritage.
Oral history also includes a number of references to the possible tribal heritage of other UHN ancestors:
2. Moscow Indian Wife of Jean Naquin
Alexander Billiot in 1979 stated that Jean Naquin married a Moscow Indian girl (Billiot, Alex. 1979). When Alexander was questioned further as to whether Moscow was a tribe or just a family, he speculated that Moscow was "just a family" (Billiot, Alex. 1979). BAR research showed that, in fact, Jean-Marie Naquin married Marie Gregoire's daughter, Pauline Verdin.
3. Chitimacha Wife of Dion
The "Dion [name] came from [a] Frenchman who married a Chitimacha and came to (?) Dulac area" according to Tom Dion (Dion 1981). BAR research showed that Jean-Charles Dion actually married Marie Zeloni Frederick, the non-Indian daughter of Bastian Frederick and Francoise Billiot.
4. Francois Fitch
Francois Fitch is reported to have come from Oklahoma according to his children (Fitch, Wickliffe 1979; Verdin, Clodellia Fitch 1979). When the interviewer asked which Indian nation, the answer was "Just Oklahoma . . . he said he was Indian" (Fitch, Wickliffe 1979). BAR researchers were unable to confirm Indian ancestry for Francois Fitch.
5. Margaret/Marguerite Houma, wife of Francois Fitch
Margaret/Marguerite Houma, the wife of Francois Fitch, Sr., is said to have been "the daughter of the chief of Houma" (Billiot, Cyril 1978). Cyril did not know the chief's first name, but reported, "his last name was Houma. He was chief of the reservation." Later in the interview, Cyril described the Indians of the area saying the "right way to call them is the Choctaw." When the interviewer questioned, "It wasn't the Houma Indians?," Cyril answered "It was the HoumaIndians too in Terrebonne Parish, LaFource [sic] Parish, Assumption Parish, where they was thrown . . . together . . . old people used to tell me that" (Billiot, Cyril 1978).
The ancestry chart of Maria Billiot Lovell identifies the parents of Margaret, wife of Francis Fitch, to have been a Choctaw and a Comanche (Lovell 1979). BAR has not been able to confirm these tribal identifications for her.
E. Claims in Published and Manuscript Materials
A sampling of published literature and some manuscript materials provides additional, equally generic references.
Hodge's Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico published in 1907, identifies the "Huma" ('red') as "A Choctaw tribe living during the earlier period of the French colonization of Louisiana." The entry concludes with the statement, "They are now supposed to be extinct" (Hodge 1907, 577).
Swanton reported that:
Although they call themselves 'Houmas,' or, rather 'Hômas,' it has been intimated . . . that remains of several other tribes, such as the Bayogoula and Acolapissa, have been incorporated with them. To these must be added Biloxi and Chitimacha . . . and probably the remnants of the Washa (Swanton 1911, 392).
In 1917 Bushnell reported:
several families living in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes, near Bayou La Fource [sic], claim to be of Chitimacha descent, although they know some of their ancestors to have been Houma (Bushnell 1917, 302).
Bushnell's informant was an Abel Billiot, age 65, "'who is known as a Chitimacha' from Point-au-chien." However, this man, whose full name was Abel Rene Billiot, was born August 9, 1853 (Hebert 1976b, Houma Church: V. 2, p. 75), and had no documentable Chitimacha ancestry. His parents were Joseph Rene Billiot and Henrietta Solet; his grandparents were Pierre Billiot and Marie Jeanne, and Jean Baptiste Prarialle Solet and Marie Genevieve Verdin. The eight great-grandparents were Jean Baptiste Billiot and Marie Enerisse; Joseph Jeanne, a native of Campeche, Mexico, and Francoise (ethnicity unknown); Valentin Solet and Babet Marie. The parentage of Marie Genevieve Verdin is not documented, but she was not a descendant of Marie Gregoire.
Abel Rene Billiot was married to Pauline Creppel, one of Rosalie Courteau's great-granddaughters.
In 1938, Underhill stated that, in her opinion, "Houma has become a generic name for a number of Muskogian remnants which mixed and concentrated as the French and Spaniards usurped the land" (Underhill 1938, 3). She went on to note on the same page that "some 300 people of Indian descent calling themselves Houma," were present in the parishes of Lafourche and Terrebonne "in more or less concentrated settlements ... though [they are] not organized as a tribe."
Speck, in 1941, when writing about plant curatives obtained from Houma Indians, noted in a footnote that the present population classified as "Houma Indians of Louisiana," then estimated at 2,000, was comprised of:
elements of other Indian descent (early historic Choctaw, Biloxi, Chitimacha), early Spanish, French and unspecified American, besides several recent accessions of Filipinos by marriage (Speck 1941, 49).
In 1943, when writing about the "Creole Houma Indian Trappers," Speck noted, without citation, that:
Swanton added a comment to his enumeration, saying 'The so-called Houma of today include remnants of most of the Louisiana coast tribes, in all degrees of mixture, Indian, white and negro' (Speck 1943, 137).
In 1979 Stanton repeated this same quote crediting it to Speck rather than Swanton (Stanton 1979, 93).
Edison Roy, relying on Swanton's work, reported that "some Indians presumably the Houmas inhabited Terrebonne as early as the end of the eighteenth century" (Roy 1959, 7). Roy concluded that of some 200 "Indian" families living in the Dulac community (Terrebonne Parish) in the 1950's, most "have some white intermixture and some with traces of Negro heritage" (Roy 1959, 9). He breaks this down further stating that,
The native inhabitants are approximately 45 per cent white ("Cajuns"); the remainder, a racial hybrid people, are primarily of Indian and French ancestry. About 10 per cent are tri-racial (Indian, white and Negro) (Roy 1959, 10).
In 1968, Fischer referred to the "Houma" as "so-called Indians" which is believed to denote "individuals who have some claim to Indian ancestry" (Fischer 1968, 133-4). She noted that, "Approximately 2000 people identify themselves primarily with the Houma" (Fischer 1968, 135).
In 1971, Stanton noted that they "identify themselves as Indian . . . they prefer to be called Indian . . . In the historical and descriptive literature, they are often referred to as Houma Indians" (Stanton 1971, 82). He stated that he "was not able to find any Indian who used this designation" (Stanton 1971, 82). Later, Stanton pointed out that literature referred to them as Houma Indians, but the term did not appear to be used locally by the Indians or their non-Indian neighbors. He went on to state that the group did not use the term Houma and resented, "even among themselves, those who use the word Sabine" (Stanton 1979, 90). Stanton also cited Speck, 1943, who was quoting Swanton.
Stanton claimed in 1971 that a 1795 record "states that land in the southern portion of Terrebonne Parish was granted to French settlers who had married local Indians" (Stanton 1971, 84). However, closer investigation of Stanton's source provides a slightly different picture:
The parish Conveyance Records reveal that in 1795 a white man named "Carlo" Naquin was granted a tract of land in the marshy fringes along the Gulf Coast. It is stated that Naquin, a migrant from France, another white man named Chaisson, and an individual named Dardar, whose race in unknown, settled in the southern end of the parish and married Indian women (Parenton and Pellegrin, 1950, 149).
BAR research indicates that Charles Naquin, who arrived in 1785 and received the land grant, was Acadian. His grandson, Jean-Marie Naquin, married Pauline Verdin, a daughter of Marie Gregoire, founding the UHN Naquin line. The Chaisson family was also Acadian: it was not until after 1850 that Andre J. Chaisson (aka Joseph Andre Chaisson) married Felicite Isilda Billiot, the non-Indian daughter of Jean Billiot and Manette Renaud, and began the UHN line bearing this surname, for which BAR cannot establish Indian ancestry. Michel Dardar, from France, married Adelaide Billiot, the non-Indian daughter of Jean Baptiste Billiot and Marie Enerisse, in 1809.
The UHN petition states that "early courthouse records refer to the Houma as the CourteauxIndians which was, most likely, a reference to an extended family" (UHN 1985b, 27). BAR researchers found no such direct references in official records. One possible explanation may have been that "Loup La Bay called Courteau Indian of the Beloxy Nation" was interpreted as "Courteau Indian" rather than the more likely interpretation "Courteau[,] Indian of the Beloxy Nation" (Terrebonne Parish 1829g).
Available information regarding the historical tribe from which the petitioning group descends is vague and inconsistent. Researchers have tended to quote one another freely, without further primary source research. When quotes attributed in print are investigated at the source, one often finds that information has been restated upon reprinting in such a manner that the original meaning is distorted. It has not been possible to determine the historical tribe from which the petitioning group descends based on available published materials.
F. Conclusion Regarding Tribal Heritage
Based on the best information available at this time, the specific Indian ancestry of the UHN progenitors from whom the majority of the current UHN membership descends appears to be as follows:
Houma Courteau/Touh-la-[B]ay/et al, and children Biloxi; possibly Chitimacha or Choctaw
Jeanet (wife of Joseph Billiot)
Marie Gregoire (wife of Alexander Verdin)
Where Rosalie's identification as "Houma" comes from is not clear. It may have been associated with her father's name, Houma Courteau. It could also be that when she, an "Indian," settled in the Houma area in the 1800's, that she was identified as an "Indian of the Houma area," i.e., a "Houma Indian." A connection to the historical Houma tribe could not be found in records reviewed for this report.
It is clear that a significant portion of the members of the UHN have some Indian ancestry. However, this ancestry cannot be reliably defined as of one particular historical tribe or another or from historical tribes which combined and continued to function as a tribal entity.
XI. MEMBERSHIP IN RECOGNIZED TRIBES
To determine whether any of the UHN members were also enrolled members of two other federally recognized tribes in the area, researchers reviewed the following rolls in Branch of Tribal Enrollment files:
1-1-1940 Census of the Mississippi Choctaw Reservation (Bureau of Indian Affairs 1940)
1-1-1941 Supplemental Birth Roll No. 1 (Bureau of Indian Affairs 1941)
11-18-1920 Annuity Pay Roll (Bureau of Indian Affairs 1920)
no date Annuity Pay Roll (received Office of Indian Affairs 10/18/1926) (Bureau of Indian Affairs n.d.)
June 1959 Tribal Roll of Chitimacha Indians, Charenton, LA (Bureau of Indian Affairs 1959)
Although a few individuals of the same or similar surnames could be identified on the above Choctaw and Chitimacha rolls, there the similarity stopped. Given names did not match those found in the UHN genealogy.
None of the current members were found to be enrolled in the recognized Mississippi Choctaw or Louisiana Chitimacha Tribes. An unpublished inventory of annuity rolls on deposit with the National Archives was checked for the following possible tribal entities: Houma, Attakapas, Biloxi, Acolapissas, and Bayogoula; none were found (Hart 1954).
No evidence was provided to suggest that any of the current members are enrolled elsewhere.
UHN'S DOCUMENTED "INDIAN" PROGENITORS AND THEIR INTERRELATIONSHIPS
("Indian" Progenitors in bold)
3. The petitioner's classification of a parent as "H" (meaning "Houma") does not reflect the BAR's finding as to whether or not the parent has Indian heritage. For a more detailed discussion of BAR's findings regarding the petitioner's claims to descend from the historic Houma Tribe, see Section X, Establishing Tribal Heritage (Which Tribe?), of this technical report.
5. 5 The "pink charts" were early printouts from the Roots III database. They were early in the sense that the database had not yet been expanded to include current members of the UHN tribal council and their ancestors (see discussion at section IX).
7. 7 The first registration was for men ages 21-31 as of June 5, 1917. The second registration, a year later (June 5, 1918), was for men who had become 21 in the intervening year. The third and final registration was for all men between the ages of 18-21 and 31-45 on September 12, 1918, who had not previously registered.
8. 8 "Non-citizen Indians" were Indians living on a reservation under the care of a Government agent or roaming individually, or in bands over unsettled tracts of country. They were believed to be maintaining relations with a tribe, were not taxed, and were not to be counted for the purpose of the apportionment of Representatives among the States. Non-citizen Indians were not required to register for the Selective Service draft. In contrast, "Citizen Indians" were living mingled with the white ("ordinary") population, out of tribal relations, were taxed, were to be counted for apportionment purposes, and were required to register for the draft. (Twenty Censuses1979, 19,22; Provost Marshall General Second Report of the Provost Marshal General to the Secretary of War on the Operations of the Selective Service System to December 20, 1918 Washington: GPO 1919, 197).
9. 9 Analysis is limited to persons appearing on BAR's pink charts at a time when the Roots III database included only the BAR's first selection (i.e., 1089 names). If the analysis had been conducted using the complete Roots III database (1408 names), researchers would undoubtedly have been able to match more draft registration cards with UHN ancestors.
10. 10 Rosalie's grandchildren, Marguerite and Eliza Verdin, were the children of Ursain Verdin (son of Alexander Verdin and Marie Gregoire) and Arthemise Billiot (daughter of Rosalie Courteau and Jacques Billiot); as such, they descended from Indian ancestors on both sides.
12. 12 Rosalie's pension application was rejected because Jacques' military service could not be verified by Federal officials. Widows Brief, War of 1812 Svc. Pension, "Rejected July 14, 1879, on the grounds that there is no evidence of the alleged service. Claimant so notified" (U.S. Veterans Administration 1878a).
13. 13 SUCCESSION refers to the process by which the property or right of a decedent is taken through descent or by will. It is a word that clearly excludes those who take by deed, grant, gift, or any form of purchase or contract .. .. (Black's Law Dictionary). In this instance, it means taken by descent since Rosalie and Jacques died intestate (without leaving a will). It is very unusual for such a long period to ensue between the death and the filing of the succession.
15. 15 Published transcript of Marguerite's "Declaration of Death" indicates that document was incomplete in the original ("page torn"). Some of detail regarding Marguerite is incomplete and inconclusive.
19. 19 In this report the terms "husband," "wife," and "married" are used for unions which lasted and/or produced children even though the BAR researchers are fully aware that these unions were not recognized as legal within the State of Louisiana.
21. 21 See especially, Virginia R. Dominguez, White By Definition (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press, 1986) and "Social Classification in Creole Louisiana" In American Ethnologist (1977, 4:589-602).
22. 22 1850 U.S. Census, Terrebonne Parish, LA, Bayou Petit Caillou, #338, shows: Jean-Baptiste Gregoir, 56, male, mulatto, laborer, born Louisiana; wife Constance, and children Arcene, Helen, Pierre, Jackson, Pelagie, and Constance. The household also contained seven Billiot children (U.S. Bureau of the Census. Terrebonne Parish 1850c, p. 333, household 338).
23. 23 Hebert (1974b) contains two citations to the "marriage" of Modeste Belhomme and Joseph Prevost. The first, dated April 7, 1856, is a civil record in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana (Houma Courthouse Marriage Vol. 4, p. 217). This record is a marriage bond which references a marriage license. It is not, however, a marriage return, as the citation in Hebert suggests. Therefore, it can not be used to prove that the marriage occurred; only that a marriage was intended. The second citation, dated April 13, 1856, is to a marriage abstracted from the records of Houma Church. A third citation comes from the LDS-IGI (LDS-IGI, LA 3615) which reports this marriage as having occurred on April 30, 1856; the source of this information is unknown.
26. 26 The word "caution" which appears in this document is believed to be the French word meaning surety or security. Except for the word "caution", the rest of this and other documents in the probate file are written in English.
28. 28 Additional research in the census would need to be done to determine what the enumerator meant by the annotation "Indians and Negroes." Photocopies gathered by researchers do not include a complete consecutive run of all pages for the ward.