By: Joshua Johnson & Belinda Brooks
Butte Tribe of Bayou Bourbeaux held the Fall Family Meeting and Gathering on September 28, 2019 at the Pace Community Center with approximately 200 members in attendance. The tribal business meeting was opened by prayer, treasurer report given, and future tribal projects discussed. Butte Drum & Singers entertained the tribal members and guests with an authentic educational program of Native American music. Singers taught the audience tribal language as well as songs that where passed down from Butte Indians’ native ancestors. This exceptional group has been invited to represent the Butte Tribe in various activities throughout the surrounding area.
Following the singing, the people moved outside to take group pictures while being entertained by Chief Collum riding his stud horse, Rock, bareback. All of this was followed by great home cooking served at the Butte Pot Luck Lunch.
The main event of the day began after lunch with a caravan of pickup trucks traveling to Butte Hill. One of the best kept secrets in the Natchitoches area, maybe in the State of Louisiana, is the existence of Butte Hill, the burial mound of the first chief/leader of the Butte Indians, Chief White Smoke and his wife, Two Moons. For close to two hundred years, the Desadier family of Bayou Bourbeaux have guarded the mound and kept all knowledge of its presence away from the public. The guardian of the mound since the 1970s has been the leader of the Desadier family, Chief of the Butte Tribe of Bayou Bourbeaux, Rodger Collum.
Chief Collum invited his tribe to pay homage to their ancestors on Butte Hill. While there, Collum told the stories that he heard at the feet of his grandparents as a small child about his forefather, the Great Chief White Smoke and his wife, Two Moons. As the tribe stood on the sacred ground of their indigenous ancestors and breathed in the crisp, pungent, very humid forest air, one could easily feel an overwhelming sense of pride in such a rich history and a desire to continue the legacy that was left behind by ancestors of the Butte Tribe of Bayou Bourbeaux.
Followers of the Butte Tribe that grew up on Bayou Bourbeaux with Chief Rodger Collum know and will attest to the fact that at an early age he was chosen by his predecessor, Clarence Desadier, to be given the responsibility of leading and taking care of the family. At the age of five, he sat at the feet of his grandparents as they told the stories and secrets of his indigenous ancestors. Here, Chief Collum tells the story of the Great Chief White Smoke and his wife, Two Moons, Chief Collum’s ancestors. White Smoke and Two Moons are buried at this site. Collum stands at the head of their graves between the stones that mark their burial site. It is important to Collum to hand down all his knowledge to his people before it is lost forever.
A small group of Butte Indians gathered to pay homage to their first chief, White Smoke, and his wife, Two Moons, on Butte Hill. Butte Tribe of Bayou Bourbeaux know who they are and know where they came from. Their roots are deep in the swamp lands of Northwestern Louisiana. For the past 200 years, they have guarded their secrets well.