Melanie Hayes is a citizen of the United Houma Nation in southeast Louisiana. She was born in New Orleans, Louisiana but moved to the bayou community of Cut Off, Louisiana when she was a young girl. Mrs. Hayes spent a large portion of her childhood in her grandmother’s antique shop, Chez Ya-Ya. She was able to learn about her family’s history and culture, in particular, her grandmother’s education at the Settlement School in Golden Meadow, LA. She credits her love of history to her time spent there with her grandmother.
Mrs. Hayes has a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a minor in Geography from Nicholls State University. She is currently enrolled in the Professional Certificate Program for Cultural Heritage Tourism with the International Institute of Tourism Studies at George Washington University. During her last semester at NSU, she was able to secure an internship at Southdown Plantation and Museum where she eventually worked as the tour guide and then as the Assistant Director.
Throughout her career she has worked closely with other nonprofits, serving as the Treasurer on the Terrebonne Historical and Cultural Society in 2015. Mrs. Hayes joined the United Houma Nation, Inc in January 2020 to assist in the efforts to preserve the Houma culture.
She is responsible for cataloguing, preserving, and managing valuable collections of historical information as well as assisting in multiple research projects. In addition, Mrs. Hayes also aids in grant writing with a focus on cultural preservation and tourism.
Currently, she is working on a project to promote the preservation and sharing of tribal culture and traditions by coordinating events where citizens will have the chance to learn directly from the tribe’s artists and cultural bearers.