I once had a conversation with a good friend of mine in which I was asked to explain Federal Recognition and the tribe’s efforts towards gaining Recognition status. After a lengthy explanation detailing the years of struggle, I was asked, what I consider a profound question, “Why are you doing all of this? Why aren’t you satisfied just being American?”
Indeed, what is it? Why do we go to the lengths that we do, not only for Federal Recognition but for the continuation of the Houma identity? What is it about being Houma that drives us to continue despite the forces opposed to us?
I know that those people outside the “Indian Country” have a difficult time understanding our perspectives. In America, we love a winner, those who struggle mightily and in the end succeed, reaping their just reward. For the Indian, our heroes, whose names are engraved in our hearts (Tecumsah, Oscola, Geronimo), struggle mightily against overwhelming odds, but in the end, they lose. And, though there is no just reward.
So, Indians cherish the one thing that has been won from the sacrifice of our heroes…survival. Though many battles have been lost, the people survive. Tecumseh and Oscola are dead but the Shawnees and Seminoles survive.
The Houma, over the centuries, have struggled also and we too have lost many battles. Assimilation, displacement, and death have been on our trail, but we have still managed to cling to a people and a place.