Over 150 members of the Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana gathered at a local hotel Saturday, Feb. 10 to celebrate the state of Louisiana formally recognizing their tribe. The tribe’s branches are indeed far flung, with people coming to the event from North Carolina, Seattle, and even as far as Paris, France. District 23 State Representative Kenny Cox, sponsor of the bill recognizing the tribe, presented copies of the resolution to the group after which it was read aloud to all present.
The Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana members are documented descendants of Natchitoches’ original Native American population who were here when Bienville came up the river. Over the years, they intermarried with the French and Spanish settlers. According to the Vice Chief of the Tribe, Belinda Brooks, “They hid in plain sight” after the Indian Removal Act of 1835. The Tribe, long thought to be extinct, actually never was and is coming forth to reclaim its heritage. Currently, the Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana has over 600 registered members.
Mssr. Clement Lagouarde of Paris, France is the most far flung member of the Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana. His great grandfather was from Natchitoches and enlisted in the U.S. Army during WWI. While serving in France, he met Clement’s great grandmother, Mme Fernande Jasinsky. Lagouarde discovered his Natchitoches tribal roots while researching his family history. He also designed the tribe’s seal.
This paragraph from the event’s program aptly sums up the tribe’s quest: “Today, the Natchitoches Indians, in honor of our ancestors, have come out of hiding and have reestablished our tribe openly. A Constitution and Bylaws are in place and a tribal council has been appointed. Our people have joined together to walk in the paths of our ancesotor with honor and dignity.”