Daigleville “All Indian” School moves forward as being listed a National Historic Place in Terrebonne Parish

Houma, LA – The Daigleville all Indian School has just been accepted to move onto the next phase to be listed as a national historic place of the United Houma Nation. Recently, the United Houma Nation met with the Louisiana Historic Preservation Office over zoom to discuss the architectural significance of Daigleville School. 

The period of significance lies under Criterion A (1953-1963) and Criterion C (1937-1941). 

“Criterion A is listed as a property that is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history. Criterion C is listed as a property that embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose composes lack individual distinction.” 

Daigleville School was built in 1936 when only whites attended the school. In the 1940s Indian School became more prevalent in the areas surrounding Houma as in Lower Montegut, Lower Dularge, Dulac, and Pointe Au Chien. In 1953, Daigleville became an elementary school for Indian children, which made this to be the fifth Indian School within Terrebonne Parish. Indian School at this time typically was taught by teachers without formal education and generally offered only 5 classes per semester that were fundamental subjects compared to the other 15 to 20 courses offered to white schools. 

 Around 1957, Daigeville expanded its courses to a higher level making it a high school. Daigleville was then the only high school that offered education to the indigenous community of Terrebonne Parish. It was not until 1963 when a lawsuit filed by Margie Naquin made aware of the discrepancy of the indigenous and white education system. After the desegregation, the population for students in Indian schools dissipated making it unavailable when Daigleville was no longer in use. Since then it has been under lease by the United Houma Nation in the last five years. 

Jacob Foreman, an undergrad of Louisiana State University in anthropology and archaeology, took on this project in the hopes of putting Daigleville listed as a national historic building. Jacob is currently going to Tulane to get his masters in the preservation program. For his course, he had to do a mock register form of choosing a building and giving the architectural description of the property, the social narrative, and the social aspects of its history. However, Jacob wanted to pull the information from his mockup and directly go to the state for the whole process.

Jacob submitted the national registration form to the state, where it went to a review committee of national historic places. They all voted unanimously yes to passing the nomination of the federal level.

“Normally, after that process and review from the meeting would be sent within a few weeks to the federal government to the advisory council on historic preservation, they would vote on it then within 30 days and decide to put it on the national register on the federal level or not,’ Jacob explained. 

Due to COVID-19, this process has been delayed and could take a couple of weeks to reach the federal government. Jacob explains the goal of getting Daigleville listed as a national historic building is a sign of respect for the building’s history, its history, and its designation. The designation is a certification that needs to be put into place for certain tools to start saving and helping the building. 

“Louisiana has such a diverse history and so many different viewpoints and backgrounds,” I knew digging into all these successful projects in the state, there were black holes of communities that weren’t of the bigger picture of historic preservation and saving this architecture,” Jacob said. 

His goal for this project was to help communities that are not in larger cities than in New Orleans. He wanted to reach out to communities that are sometimes left out of opportunities such as this one. 

“Digging into the story behind the building is so rewarding, when people are driving by they see that vacant building and they’re like that old building is just sitting there,” Jacob continued.

“It has such a dense history though, once you start digging into it, it almost becomes addictive because there are so many stories and narratives that are attached to that.” 

Jacob plans on graduating from Tulane December 2020 with his masters and staying involved in any form of cultural resources in Louisiana. He hopes to continue the  Archaeology research within Louisiana, especially in the topics of climate adaptation and change. 

Not only has Daigleville been a significant monument of the United Houma Nation, but a representative for the segregation and desegregation in Terrebonne Parish education history. Therefore, it is vital that this monument is listed as a National Historic Place so that Daigleville will continue to be a representative for the fight in education for the indigenous community.

“You start to realize how important it is to save these types of buildings that could mean so much to maybe an underrepresented community in that area,” Jacob said.