Houmas Indians of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

The photo above is a group of mixed Houmas Indians in Bayou Lafourche in 1907

The Draft Registration for WWI was really a wonderful historical opportunity.  While other documents, such as the Indian Census, were taken only of tribal members, the draft asked each individual their race.  They got to decide what they said, not as dictated by another body, such as a tribe or a school or a registrar of some sort.  Some claimed mixed race.

In Louisiana, probably half of the people who claimed they were Indian came from Terrebonne Parish.  The rest were scattered in other parishes, and New Orleans, of course, but Terrebonne probably had as many as all the rest put together.  So I set about trying to discover who these Indians were.  Ironically, the history of Terrebonne parish doesn’t say anything about Indians, which I found unusual, but I did find information in some other places.

It turns out that the Houmas Indians were the primary group found there in the 1800s and early 1900s, but they weren’t there earlier.  Sometimes given as Ouma (French) or Huma. The name translates literally as “red” and is apparently a shortened form of Saktci-homma, the name of the Chakchiuma meaning “red crawfish.” Houma in southern Louisiana are sometimes referred to as Sabine, a derogatory term usually intended as a racial insult.

The first mention of the Houmas Indians is found in LaSalle’s report of the existance of the “Oumas” village in March of 1682, though he didn’t actually visit the location. (B.F. French, ed., Historical Collections of Louisiana, 1846, V. 1, p. 47-49) In 1686, Chevalier de Tonti went up the Mississippi River and found the “Oumas tribe, the bravest of all the savages. The location of the tribe at this time was east of the Mississippi River in West Feliciana Parish … near present-day Angola state prison. (Chevalier de Tonti, Relation De La Louisianne et de Mississippi, 1734, p. 45) In 1699, Bienville noted the conflict between the Houmas and the Bayougoula Indians, who lived further south. (Swanton, Bulletin 43, p.287-288) The two tribes had set up a red pole (from which the city “Baton Rouge” got its name) to mark the boundary of their hunting areas. (Richebourg Faillard McWilliams, Fleur de Lys and Calumet, 1953, p. 25) By the following year, the conflict had been resolved and the tribes made peace. (B.F. French, ed., Historical Collections of Louisiana and Florida, 1869, p. 55)

In 1700, the Jesuit Father Paul Du Ru joined Iberville in a trip to the Houma village. He left his servant, who directed the Indians in building a Catholic church … the first Catholic church in the Mississippi Valley. It was 50 feet long and had a cross almost 40 feet tall. (Roger Baudier, The Catholic Church in Louisiana, 1939, p. 2) On a later trip (1701-1702) to the village, Iberville counted 150 families in the tribe. (Margry, Decouvertes, Vol IV, p. 418)

About 1706, the Houmas and nearby Tunicas were feeling threatened by northern tribes from Mississippi. The Tunica settled in with the Houmas, only to later turn on them and kill over half of the tribe. The remaining Houmas moved southward. They probably settled around the mouth of the Lafourche. Some say that they moved to Bayou St. John, but is seems that they only visited that area seasonally. (Bernard de La Harpe, Historical Journal, p. 100-101) It is thought that their hunting area extended from the Lafourche eastward to Lake Ponchatrain. The main movement of the Houmas down the Lafourche probably came after 1770. The oral tradition of the Houma Indians says that one branch of the tribe settled at present-day Houma … which was in the center of their hunting land from Atchafalaya to Barataria. The village was named Chufahouma. (Oral History, Curry: # 2, #6, #15)

The following years saw the Houmas making peace … with the Chitimacha in 1716, and the Tunica and Natchez in 1723. Bienville noted in 1723 that “this nation (Houma) is very brave and very laborious.” It was reported in 1749 by Joseph De LaPorte that the Houmas lived in two villages located about six miles south of the Lafourche. De Kerlerec noted in 1758 that their location was about 66 miles upriver from New Orleans.

The latter half of the century was not a good time for the tribe. In 1771, John Thomas reported that there were 46 Houma warriors. In the latter half of the 18th century, a number of small conflicts between the Houmas and other tribes were reported. Their land, for which they had received a verbal guarantee, was sold out from under them. Legal battles were attempted … some lasting for decades … but failed due to a lack of a written document. The tribe was still on the land in 1785 and refused to move.

In 1803, Daniel Clark reported that there were 60 Houmas living on the east bank of the Mississippi River, about 75 miles upriver from New Orleans. John Sibley reported in 1806 that there were just a few Houmas living on the east side of the Mississippi just south of Bayou Manchac. Sibley also noted that some of the Houmas had traveled west and intermarried with the Attakapas tribe.

At this point, the story becomes somewhat clouded. Oral tradition of the Indians says that Alexander Billiot, the Houma chief, was living at the site of present-day Houma when the “white man came.” The traditions states that he was later given a grant for the land, though no proof of this grant exists. When they applied for the land (without a written grant), it was rejected (in 1814). They applied for “a tract of land lying on Bayou Boeuf, or Black Bayou.” This is the area between present day Houma and Morgan City. Without tribal land, the Houmas had to acquire land as private citizens.

The documented proof of Houmas Indian migration to Terrebonne Parish is lacking. The tribal identity and specifics of the Indian presence in Terrebonne Parish is still being looked into by the Bureau of Indian Affairs who issued a report which you can see at this link:   http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~laterreb/houmaindians.htm

In the mid 1990s, BIA came out with their genealogical report on the Houmas tribe. To summarize, they found only 3 progenitors that could be clearly identified as Native American:  Joseph Houma Courteau, Jeanet, and Marie Gregoire. Courteau’s daughter married Jacques Billiot.  Jeanet married his brother Joseph Billiot. Marie Gregoire married Alexander Verdin.  Courteau was said to be an “Indian of the Biloxi nation.

There are several others with possible connections. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, several other French men married Indian brides. Many of the names of these men are still recognized as being (primarily) Indian names. The surnames include: Billiot (see above), Verdin (see above), Solet, Verret, Parfait, Dardar (Michel Dardar, a Frenchman, married Adelaide Billiot, non-Indian daughter of Jean Baptiste Billiot & Marie Enerisse, in 1809), , , Naquin (Acadian Charles Naquin arrived in LA in 1785; his grandson Jean-Marie Naquin married Pauline Verdin, a daughter of Alexander Verdin & Marie Gregoire), Chiasson (Andre J. Chaisson married Felicite Isilda Billiot, non-Indian daughter of Jean Billiot & Manette Renaud).

The earliest Indian settlements in Terrebonne Parish were along Bayou Terrebonne and Little Caillou. By 1850, the settlements had spread to Pointe Aux Chenes and Bayou DuLarge.  As the English, French, Acadian, etc. came into the parish, the Indians were forced further south. In 1907, John Swanton counted almost 900 people in several settlements. These included 175 at Bayou Sale (below Dulac), 160 at Pointe Aux Chenes, 117 at Isle de Jean Charles, about 90 at Bayou DuLarge, and 65 at Pointe Barre. (Swanton, Bulletin 43, p. 291) The Indian population was reported at 2,000 by Franklin Speck in 1941. (Speck, “Report … on Historical and Economic Background of Houma Indians,” p. 14-16)

The Houmas war emblem was the crawfish, representing both honor as it wouldn’t back down from anything, even unto death, and the most abject poverty if you ate it.

You can read more about the history of the Houma at this link: http://www.dickshovel.com/hou.html

To read about the Confederation of Biloxi, Chitimacha and Choctaw, tribes of Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, visit this site:  http://www.biloxi-chitimacha.com/

You can read more about their history here:  http://www.biloxi-chitimacha.com/history.htm

Interviews and photographs:  http://oralhistory.blogs.lib.lsu.edu/tag/houma-indians/

Sources:  http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~laterreb/indian.htm

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About robertajestes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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47 Responses to Houmas Indians of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana

  1. Hannah says:

    Trying to find out more info from my grandma’s past. She grandmother was a Blackfoot from Lafourche. She married a Naquin.

    • Michael Leon Dardar I says:

      There are no historic Blackfoot from the Lafourche area, nor anywhere near Louisiana. But actually, people of that region didn’t refer to themselves as Houma until it was suggested to them by researchers that had read John R. Swantons assumption that they were when he did his research in 1907. Interestingly,that assumption was never confirmed by researchers before nor after him. Researchers after him always reference his book when mentioning that their was a small remnant of Houmas counted in an earlier census. Swanton claimed that the census taker overlooked the larger part of the tribe down in the Laforche bayous. It is that assumption that all following researcers refer to. But there is no document that connects those Houmas on that census to the families living in Lafourch area. And this what at the same time the known progenitors and their children were living, like Marie Gregoire and Roslie Courteau. Documents prove that Courteau was of the Biloxi Nation, and Marie Gregoire’s parents and uncle were in the western part of Louisiana know as the Attakapas region, where there were Chitimacha settlements. Since Alexander Verdun and his older brothers had lived in that area, now known as St. Mary Parish, there’s no doubt Marie was Chitimacha. Jeanette’s, (the Native American that married Joseph Billiot) tribe has never been verified/identified.

      But in the early days when the name Houma was being “suggested” as the people’s tribe,there were some, like my grandfater who had been told long ago that they were Chitimacha. Some other claimed Cherokee! It seems the older people just used names of tribes they heard of in the movies. They were raised knowing or in some cases believing they wer Native Americans, but didn’t know what tribe.

    • Krystal Naquin says:

      What is the name of your grandfather?

      • Michael L. Dardar says:

        My paternal grandfather was Delmas Gabriel Dardar (born in Golden Meadow but lived his adult life in Bears Island and Berwick), the son of Paulin Dardar II and Victoria Verdun. And my maternal grandfather was Alexander Crappel/Crepel (born in Terrebonne Parish but raised and lived in Morgan City), but his real family name was Billiot, the son of Alexander Joseph Billiot (Crepel in St. Mary Parish) and Eva Verret.

  2. my name is Shane Billiot I an 35 years old and one proud native American . All these people listed is my Ancestors because of them my family still exist today ,and was never forced to live out our lives on a reservation .I am very proud of them for never giving up ,because of there bravery we was always able to be free !! I love the Great Spirit for he lives within our people and it is a blessing to be able to still hunt and fish where my ancestors did ..

  3. Adam Joseph Verdin, 298 Hideaway Dr, Zwolle, LA 71486 318-461-3756 says:

    My grandmother was Julia Marie Billiot, lived in Lockport, LA (Banana Grove) She married Benard Verdin.She was my Dad’s mother. My dad was Camille Bertrand Verdin. I am Adam Joseph Verdin.
    I have two sons, Adam Wade and Brian Keith Verdin. My wife and I have seven grandchildren.
    I grew up just outside of Lockport, LA.

    • HI! I BELIEVE YOU MAY KNOW ME, THIS IS SUE VERDIN. FROM LOCKPORT MY DAD IS YOUR 1ST COUSIN SCHMELLING “MACK” VERDIN. HOW YA’LL BEEN.

      • Elaine Perry Verdin says:

        Hi Sue, I am Adam’s wife, Elaine…Adam is afraid of the computer, LOL I keep telling him, “It won’t bite” How are you doing? It’s been a while since we have seen your dad and D…at that family reunion at the Cantrell’s place. I do remember seeing you, I think it was you. Tell me How is your mom doing?
        Hey, I checked in here because Adam would not do it. How-a-bout you? I think it is very interesting!! We were there about 2 1/2 days for our 57TH class reunion!! WHOooooo, Adam is getting old 🙂
        BTW my email is verdin.elaine@yahoo.com , 318-508-0977. I do remember the two pretty little girls..you and your sister.. 😉 Your dad was like a brother to me. He is much like my brothers….was it you or your sister with the dog kennel?
        we are leaving here on Sat A.M. to go to a small town near Houston to get on a ship for 7 days.
        We will be back on the 5TH of Dec.
        I am so sorry I did not see your message on the Indian site 😦 Wade, oldeat son saw it and sent the link to me today. We were in Shreveport when he sent it and just got home a few minutes ago…
        I am on FB…7 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Wade is a grandpa now.. 🙂 I didn’t know your last, Married name, until today..Thanks Sue.
        Please let us know how you, your sister, your mom and dad, OH and your baby are doing!!!
        Wade has 4 daughters and Brian has 3 sons…Ryan finished his 4 years as a Ranger, Medic, and paratrooper in the Army. Patrick is 5 years younger, he is in his second year in college and is taking “Computer Science”and Sean is also in college, Medical school. Wants to be a Surgeon. Ryan is 26 years old now and will go back to college for the next semester. The boys aren’t married yet. Wade’s second daughter, Ellen married recently on Sept 9th this year…Grace is only 17 and Sadie
        is only 14, but a pretty big girl…I have to look up to her and Grace…
        Will give you a break….Have a very good day and look forward to hearing from you
        Love
        elaine~

  4. Johnny Fountano says:

    I am from San Antonio, Texas and my name is Johnny Fountano. I am mixed black, probably of creole descent on my fathers side. My cousin last name Fountano did a DNA test and the y chromosome came back Native American (fathers side). So I went on ancestry.com to try to find my fathers line of people and I did a DNA test myself and it also came back Y-DNA Native American Haplogroup. (my fathers side.) So I tried to look up my fathers line and came up with a great great grandfather name Joe Fountano from Iberia Parish Louisiana 1820. I believe his last name was originally Fonteneau or Founteneau and it was changed. Either he or his father, maybe grandfather is Native American, And it seem like it was close to the Houmas, Chitamachas, The Attakapas, and Appelousa is not too far either. Does anybody know anything about this?
    Thank You.

    • Monica says:

      You would have to give more information. If i could have names and which parish they came from.

    • Michael Leon Dardar I says:

      There are volumes and volumes on vital records of Southwest Louisiana, sometimes referred to as the Father Hebert books for Rev. Donald J. Hebert who compiled all of the civil and church records of Southwest and South Louisiana. They’re in most libraries in La. But as Monica mentioned, you’ll need more information to start your research or for genealogists to help you. For a start, find out the names of your great or great great grandparents from a relative. The Baton Rouge Diocese and the St. Louis Cathedral Records are other great sources. Don’t be surprised to find an ancestor in New Orleans and later way in Natchitoches depending on his business. Good luck. Genealogy is a great journey but it can obsess you.

  5. Bobby Beard says:

    Pierre Nicolas Michel Dardar is my 4th Great Grandfather. Adelaide Billiot and Michel’s son Marcelin Dardar is my 3rd Great and his daughter, Marguerite Adelaide Dardar, is my Great Great Grandmother. She married a man we believed named Maximin Billiot or possibly Maximilian Billiot. There son was Joseph Edward Billeau. Not sure why the change in the last name spelling. Maximin’s last name may also have been spelled Billeau, though.

    • Michael Leon Dardar I says:

      I’m Michael Leon Dardar, son of Delmas Dardar & Lucille Crappel. I trace my ancestry back to 2 of Michel and Adelaide’s sons, Marcellin and Leopold (also known as Paulin I). I was the one who actually sent away for the Michel’s baptism document that contained his full name his father and mother’s names. I then sent back (in an attempt to “trick” the Chalon sur Marne archive into researching for me) the marriages of his parents, which showed their parents.
      About Billiot vs Billeau. In French they sound the same. You will even find it spelled Bio, Billau, almost any possible way it could be written and still pronounced bee-yo.
      Much of the research done by the BIA field researchers confimed a cousin and my findings about various family lines, in some cases they verified findings I had made that I hadn’t been 100% sure of.

      • Thanks for the comment and the information. Tracking down the Billeau side of my family has been a job. My Grandmother passed two years ago, and her brothers don’t remember much about their Grandparents. They remember moving from Louisiana to Matagorda, Tx, but not much about their extended family. One of my Gr. Aunts gathered most of the information that I have.

  6. Jadi says:

    I am a Verdin from South Louisiana, from the Houma area. The farthest my family tree had gone back was Alexandre Verdin and Marie Gregoire and I was looking for information on them on the Internet. I was well aware of the Indian heritage, grew up knowing I was over half, but I still wanted to find a little more about them. This was a great find. Thank you!

  7. betty jean mstthews says:

    Hi I was reading about the Houma Indians and I would like to know what tribes did the name Fitch is.my mother and her mother and daddy name is Fitch.I would like to know it I was also an Indian

  8. Denese says:

    I am trying to trace my Solet line. My 2x great grandfather was Auguste Solet. I am descended from his daughter Matilda.

  9. Jamie Dardar says:

    I Am Jamie Dardar of Point – aux – chene a registered tribsl member of united houma nation a native of the isle of jean charles and resident on island since 1973 at birth . I’m proud to have grown up on our Ancestors land free from government reservation forced on so many Natives our history may not be completely traced but our people are proud Natives decedent’s of many tribes who banded together to survive the invasion of the white settlers on Native land.this has been told by our Grand parents for generations my Grandfather spoke of this how we came to exist and survive so have many of the oldest Natives of the island. We Are Native indigenous people of this land i do Consider myself Houma Native American. A decedent of the CHIEF JEAN CHARLES NAQUIN who was Chief on the Island of jean charles a houma tribal member before his grandson Albert Naquin sold out his name and claimed to be a different tribesmen of 3 nations of Native American and disbanded to form another tribe on the island.Blood test should be conducted by our people to prove who’s Native and what percentage of Native American they have to control Registry of non native in our tribes.

    • Brandon Ledet says:

      Funny you speak of Chief Naquin. I’ve went back all the way to his father which was my 7th great grandfather. Chief Naquin was my 7th great Uncle. However I’ve spoken with present Chief and the Chief of Homuas tribe. One tells me I can’t be a member because I’m not directly from the island and the other says I’d need a number and there’s no telling when that would happen. My research shows that we all stem from the Chitimaka. None the less I love learning of my ancestors. I know I have Native blood. My grandmother is Dora Lee Naquin and my grandfather is Neil L edet. I would love to be a member and pass my heritage on to my daughter.

      • Michael Leon Dardar I says:

        The Native American blood in the Naquin family comes from Jean Marie Naquin’s wife Pauline, the daughter of Alexandre Verdun, a white man and Marie Gregoire, “sang melee sauvagesse” (half or mixed blood Indian woman), who been proven to be Chitimacha. I am a descendant of Pauline and her sister Eulalie on my mother’s side, and their brother Victor on my fathers side, but a generation closers.

        There were many mistakes made during the enrollment period of the Houmas “tribe.” People of certain family names were automatically accepted without confirming they were descendants of the Native line of those families. Hence, lots of Naquins, Billiots, Dardars, Soles/Soulet/Saulets, Verrets, Verdins/Verduns, etc were enrolled. The idea of the group being of the Houma tribe, seems to have originated from an assumption made by anthropologist and ethnologist John R. Swanton in his research of the Indian tribes of the Lower Mississippi Valley in 1907. It’s been proven by later researchers that Swanton had a tendency to fill in the unknown with his own ideas as though they were facts. He assumed that the census takers of the early 1800s, after reporting that there was a small remnant of the ancient Houma tribe living farther north, had missed the large group living in Lafourche. An example of his unintelligible (cock and bull) reporting is:

        “The family history of the writer’s oldest informant, Felicite Billiout, will serve to illustrate this tribal complexity. Her grandmother, whose Indian name was Xuyu’n, but who was baptized ‘Marion’ after her removal to Louisiana, was born in or near Mobile; her grandfather, Shulu-shumon, or, in French, Joseph Abbe, and more often called ‘Couteaux,’ was a Biloxi medal chief; and her mother ‘an Atakapa from Texas.’”

        So how does this prove they are Houma Indians? Are was it meant to prove they were Indians that lived in Houma? The fact that Felicite was a Billiout/Billiot disproves all of this. The earliest record of Billiot/Billeau/Billau/etc that the people of Lafourche trace back to can be found in the Swiss Troops during the 1700s. Interesting to note is they were stationed in close proximaty to free Negros of the Iris family and also soldiers. All Billiots with lineage in the Lafourche-Terrebonne region trade back to Jean Billiot and Marie Iris/Eris/etc. The few baptism records of their children are in the Archdiocese of New Orleans/St. Louis Cathedral records.

        That name Xuyu’n reminds me of a Chinese name Xu Yun! And speaking of Chinese. When listening to oral histories, remember the Chinese gossip game, how a story can change dramatically just in a few minutes passed around by a few people. I interviewed one man that told me with a straight face that Oklahoma was name for a Joseph Houma and Annie Oakley! Another said that Manette Renaud, an Acadian, who had been the common-law wife of many of the sons of Jean Billiot and Marie Iris, was a princess who came to Louisiana pregnant on a barge filled with gold from France, and her husband August Crepel had died on a battlefield in France. Facts: Manette’s father was Antoine Renaud who was in Canada before going to Louisiana. Manette had a half-sister whose father was a Magneau, and of course August Crepel had children (3 sons) with Michel Dardar’s widow Adelaide Billiot, and in later years is seen on census records living with Manette and her Billiot children. There are some who in an attempt to hide the Billiot bloodline, claim that their ancestor was actually the son of August Crepel and Manette Renaud–therefore white–and that when going to be baptized along with his half siblings, the boy around 9 years old asked his mother what name he was going to be baptized as. Her reply was, “The same as your brothers and sister, you little S.O.B.!” But that story is shot down by baptism records because he was baptized much younger and under his father’s name, who was Charles Billiot and not the illegitimate son of August Crepel. They were all baptized uder each ones father’s name, but they weren’t all baptized together. At the time Manette was with August, those children she had with the Billiot brothers were much older.

  10. Claudia says:

    How would I check the Mississippi tribes rolls

  11. JoAnn Scott Businelle says:

    Hi I’m a Scott my dad is Louis (L.J) Scott.My grand parents were Oris (mustache)Scott and Evelyn Liner Scott from Dularge.I am a registered member of united houma nation tribe.I would like more info on my family background as my sister in law did it and I know nothing..

  12. Pierce says:

    Looking for the Relatives of (Reado) from the Houma/Lafourche area. Great grandmother Elizabeth Reado.. born in 1866.

  13. thomas says:

    Does anyone know how I would get legal documentation to prove that I do have the Houma Indian blood line?

    • Michael Leon Dardar I says:

      The United Houma Nation is one group made up of people who are decendants of various families that were early inhabitants of South Louisiana. They have been petitioning for the US government to recognize/accept them as a tribe for many decades, but due to lack of documentations to prove actual decendancy from a Houma Indian, they continue to petition. The known Native American progenitors of this group are Rosalie Courteau, whose father was of the Biloxi Nation, “a Biloxi medal chief,” Marie Gregoire, “femme sauvagesse” (Indian woman), “sang melee savauge” (half blood Indian” and Jeanet, “an Indian.” The BIA field researchers verified that Marie Gregoire’s father was Gregoire, “grif libre” (grif/griffe = child of Indian and Negro) mother listed “mother is a sauvagesse, son of Andre, the Negro servant of Frenchman Andre Masse. Gregoire had a brother named Paul. He sometimes used Masse as his surname, but his children took Paul for their surname. The surname Paul is rather common in the Chitimacha tribe of St. Mary Parish. There have been Pauls that were chiefs in the 20th Century. Jeanet’s tribe has never been identified.
      Rosalie Couteau married Jacques Billiot of German/Swiss and Negro ancesty. Marie Gregoire was the “wife” of Alexandre Verdun who was French, German and Swiss. His brothers had children with Negro slaves who they later freed and gave land. Jeanet’s “husband” Joseph Billiot was the brother of Jacques Billiot. Their sister Adelaide married Michel Dardar, and later August Crepel. Their sister Francoise married the mulatto son of Frenchman Valentine Sole and Babe, negro slave. Some side notes: 1. Valentine was married to a white wome in New Orleans but had legal business dealings in Lafourche Interior. 2. Although mixed-race marriage was illegal in Louisiana, there are many examples of it being legal for recent European immigrants, such as Michel Dardar and others in various regions of the state.

      • Hope Caulfield says:

        Rosaline Couteau is of my family descendant on my father’s side of the family. I find your documentary’s all very interesting. I just recently had my DNA done through ancestry. I am 4% Native American, 12% African, 6% Asia, 72% Europe, 2% Pacific Islander, and 4% West Asia.

      • Michael L. Dardar says:

        Very interesting! Most of my relatives wouldn’t even accept the Native American ancestry at first. On my mother’s side, they were raised believing they were “pure white,” despite the fact that my maternal grandmother’s mother was a Billiot, a family name that was whispered about having black ancestry. My mother’s oldest sister gave the information on my grandmother’s death certificate, but in that space is written unknown. Little did she know, that my grandmother had told my mother her mother’s name when my mother was filling out ancestry info in my baby book.

        On the grandfather’s side, there was a story concocted to cover that his grandfather was also a Billiot. They took the name of the last husband of my greatgreat grandfather’s mother, August Crepel/Crappel, since, like Michel Dardar, he was from France. My grandfather’s sister along with her daughter did early ancestry research in the 60s, and did all they could to cover any non-white ancestry Growing up, the family would talk about how the research drove my great aunt and cousin crazy, believing it was their quest to find out about the imagined family fortune, but my research uncovered the real reason for their mental collapse–finding the truth about their ancestry. The rest of the family had no problem accepting my findings, and quickly related stories that now made sense. But older distant relatives like top members in the United Houma Nation, refused to accept any of it, preferring to hang on to word of mouth fairytales that had been handed down to cover the black ancestry.

        Were your DNA findings surprising to you? Are there known Asians in your recent ancestry (grandparents or greatgps)? I used to be in contact with people at the Amistad Center at Tulane that told me there were some black families that had married Pacific Islanders that had immigrated to New Orleans. I never looked into it further, but I know that there were Chinese that had shrimp drying companies down in lower Jefferson Parish, who had brought in Philippine people to work.

      • Lisa Nixon says:

        Hello, My name is Lisa Nixon and my grandmother was Angelic Billiot Greco. From my research her parents were Thomas Billiot and Annette Billiot, Thomas Billiot’s mother was Adelaide Billiot was married to Alexander Billiot. Alexander Billiot’s mother was Rosalie Courteaux who was married to Jacques Billiot. This is what I put together so far, am I on the right track?

  14. thomas says:

    Also I contacted someone from the Houma Nation website to get information on becoming a member. They said the books were closed. Does anyone know what that means exactly? Are they not accepting new members?

  15. Travis verdin says:

    I am a verdin from dulac and I wanted to know more about the verdin Ancestors

  16. Kyrie says:

    Hello , I am trying to find out who to talk to about seeing if i was registered and getting my certificate ?

  17. Andrew Joseph Verdin says:

    My name is Andrew Joseph Verdin. I am 28. I live in Bayou Gauche as of right now. My father’s side is where my native blood comes from. I know my great grandfather new very little English and spoke mostly French. From reading my family’s scroll with our crest on it I found that when the French settlers landed near the gulf they came up through what is now a day bayou dularge, dulac, and near pointe aux chenes. The French taught many Natives to speak french as that was the only way for them to speak with one another. The Native women sometimes were given to French men an were able to marry an some were raped an had children which is a lot of the reason the Native descendants have French blood. I could not track very much back into my Native heritage because the records are lost in the memories of my family members who have past. I did however find where my last name originated and who my French family members where. Very interesting and short lives they lived. You will find if your name is Verdin… its because a woman in france who came from Royalty died to keep our name going. You can find me on Facebook by searching Drew Verdin if you have any questions.

    • Michael Leon Dardar I says:

      You can find a lot of documents on the Verdun (that’s the original spelling) brothers in the St. Mary Parish Courthouse. The Old Mint in New Orleans also had an interesting document of Alexander petitioning to be allowed to go to live with his brothers who were living in the area at that time know as the Attakapas Region, now St. Mary and some other western parishes. I seem to remember he was under the care of his uncle, his mother’s brother. In the St. Mary Parish Cthse. you’ll find slave sales and emancipations made by the Verdun brothers. In fact, Verdunville is named for them, and many of the descendants of their former slaves, many of whom were actually also their descendants live there. What is strange is his brothers who had children with Negro slaves were able to emancipate the mother and children and give them land, which was the law. But Alexander tried to make a disguised donation to each child he had with Marie Gregoire using his will, but it was contested by his relatives on his mother’s side and they won..

  18. Joseph Solet says:

    Research on the city of Houma shows where the name Houma comes from, before some people tried to change it, the city was founded in the early 1800s, the language we speak is not just french, french Spanish and Choctaw combined, land trades and sales show sales from houmas. and books when I went to school in the 60s showed chitimacha in this area, a code noir made every dark person black Spanish people and Native people and any dark person was considered black, and there were native slaves many. Not to good at this writing but keep my nose in the books to find new stuff..

  19. Leo says:

    Maybe some can help me, My grand father Name is Ovide St.Ann his father was Lee Paul St.Ann and was said to be from a Louisiana tribe. Does Anyone recognize this last name? I can not find information anywhere.

  20. Krystal Naquin says:

    Hi!! My name is Krystal Naquin, 22. I am the granddaughter of Paul Joseph and Mary-Jean Naquin. I am so ecstatic to have come across this. The fact that we can all be related somehow is absolutely amazing! I would love to know more about all of this. How do i go about finding out about having Native American in my blood?

  21. Rod Yelton says:

    My wife was adopted in New Orleans in 1962, original birth certificate list name as Gwendolyn Billiot, native American(Indian back then).Choctaw was the tribe listed also. Anyone who may have info to her genealogy contact rodyelton@filtrona.com. Thanks

  22. Michael Leon Dardar I says:

    Everyone looking for information about registering with the “Houma Indian Tribe” needs to read the BIA’s Bureau Of Acknowledgement & Recognition’s summary of findings from 1993. The very thorough findings still stand and the reasons are very clear, some of which I mentioned in my previous comments this year.

    GENEALOGICAL REPORT ON THE UNITED HOUMA NATION, INC.
    From the original at the Bureau of Indian Affairs
    SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE
    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~laterreb/houmaindians.htm

  23. Dennis Springer says:

    I am Dennis Springer, my Mother’s maiden Name was Virginia Molinere, from her mothers Second husband Xavier Molinere. She was born in Montague, terrebone Parish..She often talked about the Houmas whom she said she was descendant from through her mother who”s last name was Billiot or Billeaux..My Grandfather never spoke any English but I remember my interaction with him. He was a very kind Man, and I remember him as being dark complected.I used to ride on his boat down terrebone bayou and out into the Gulf where he would shrimp and fish.wanting to know more about where the black heritage came into our bloodline..I am open to conversation any time..Peace

    • Elaine Verdin says:

      My husband is from 2 of the three names that make up the Houmas tribe. I’m sure it is Verdin, Billiot and Dardar. His Grandmother was a Billiot and married a Verdin…My husband, Adam J. Verdin’s father was Camlille Bertrand Verdin married to Agnes Matherne. We have 2 sons, Adam W. Verdin and Brian Verdin. Thank you.  Elaine Perry Verdin

      WordPress.com Dennis Springer commented: “I am Dennis Springer, my Mother’s maiden Name was Virginia Molinere, from her mothers Second husband Xavier Molinere. She was born in Montague, terrebone Parish..She often talked about the Houmas whom she said she was descendant from through her mother wh” | | Respond to this comment by replying above this line |

    • Michael L. Dardar says:

      Hi Dennis.
      Getting right to your query on the black heritage, Marie Iris (Mariane Eris, Marie Neris, etc) was the mother of all of the children of Jean Billiot (Jean Billau, etc). In the 1809 succession of Jean Billau (Lafourche Parish Cthse), Marie is referred to as a “free negress,” free negro woman. An important fact is that the administrator of the succession was close friend of the family, Judge Henry S. Thibodeaux, who was the godfather of the first child of Michel Dardar and Adelaide Billiot. Louisiana’s Code Noir of 1810 required that all non-white people, including those of mixed-races be designated gens de couleur libre in French or free person of color, (f.p.o.c.), or free man/woman of color (f.m.o.c./f.w.o.c.). And when the race was known, often it was written (Negro, Indian, Chinese, etc). Though a census taker might write down his opinion of a person’s race, this was not the case in civil and church documents. Stories claiming that the Code Noir “made Spanish, Native people and any dark person black” are not true. Remember, Louisiana was under Spanish rule twice before being sold to America. People knew the differences (besides skin color, hair, lips and noses, etc) between Spanish, Indians and Negroes, period.

      The French and Spanish seemed to be obsessed with being precise in their labeling, and even had terms for each degree of black blood. As you know, a mulatto and mulatress was a child of a white parent and a black parent, but grif and griffe were used for Indian and Negro, while the Spanish used prado and prada. (In Canada the terms metis/metisse are used for a child of a white and an Indian parent.) A child of a white person and a mulatto/mulattress was a quadroon, then the child of a white and a quadroon was a quarteroon! But those terms gradually were replaced by f.p.o.c.

      In later years, researchers from the Menonite religion volunteering at the United Houma Tribal Center began interpreting all instances in the tribe’s ancestry of “free person of color” to mean “Indian,” without looking farther to find records of the actual race. They found Jean Billau’s succession, but never brought it to the attention to the tribal council members. The information about Marie Iris being a Negro was merely written on her card and put secretly, it seems, in the center’s card file, where I first stumbled on it. This is what I believe caused so much confusion in the group. There were members who had no lineage to Indians that were running the center! One was even appointed as director of the Governor’s Office on Indian Affairs!

      Other proof of Marie Iris being a Negro is found in earlier documentation of Jean Billeau in the Swiss Troops stationed in the area of present-day Plaquemine Parish that was near the free Negro family of the name Iris. A very early issue of Louisiana Historical Quarterly sited a unique court case between a free Negro surnamed Iris vs Albert Bonne. A Jacque Billieau, who had also been listed with the Swiss Troops was a witness for Iris. Iris had been sent to lead free Negro troops to Pensacola. While he was gone, Albert Bonne took back the land he had sold to Iris.

      Now, there was a woman in the 90s, Audrey Westerman, who did “research” for one faction of the United Houma Nation after the BIA gave their findings. Her mission was to prove Marie Iris was an Indian. When we spoke, I told her of Marie Gregoire’s father being a grif. As I recall, at that time she had never come across the terms grif/griffe. But later she seems to have made up findings of Marie Iris being listed as a griffe in a land record. But, I and the field researchers from the BIA saw the land record she references (posted on 2 websites), and it did not have “griffe” on it! Some researchers are not out to find facts but out to prove their ideas/theories, even if they have to create records. She also refers to a court testimony where the person said he thought Marie Iris was Spanish or Portugese from Santo Domingo. This man also said his father was August Crepel, something he claimed because he knew the Billiot name was known as family with black ancestry. So he took the Crepel name in order to join the Confederacy. What Ms. Westerman doesn’t mention from the trial is that the attorney replied to the man asking didn’t he know it was a fact that the wife of Jean Billiot was a negress? By the way, the man Joseph Severin Billiot/Crepel married Rosalie Molinere after he returned from the Civil War. And the son he had with a woman before the war went as Crepel in St. Mary Parish and Billiot in Terrebonne.
      I encourage you to also see the BIA’s report:
      GENEALOGICAL REPORT ON THE UNITED HOUMA NATION, INC.
      From the original at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Summary of the Evidence
      You might be able to find a copy of the full report.

      Other black bloodlines come from the Verret/Lamotte union through the children of Jacques Verret, a white man and Celeste Lamotte, quateroon woman. Their son Solomon married Eulalie Verdun, daughter of white man Alexander Verdun and Marie Gregoire, a mixed-blood Indian. The Saulet/Solet/Soulet line is another source that adds more black heritage into some family lines. Valentine Saulet, although married in New Orleans, had children with a Negro slave woman named Babe. His emancipation of his son Baptiste Prerial is in the Lafourche Courthouse Conveyance Records. Prairial Saulet married Agnes Francoise Billiot, the eldest daughter of Jean Billiot and Marie Iris. She is also listed as the godmother of the first child of Michel Dardar and Adelaide Billiot.

      See some of my previous posts about Verdun black lines that came from Alexander’s brothers’ unions with their Negro slave women in St. Mary Parish. One such son, Cadet Verdun’s children later married into the “Houma tribe.”

      Well, I hope this helps–maybe it’s a lot more than you needed. But don’t hesitate to contact me anytime. See some of my other posts for more research sources in the libraries.

  24. Darryl says:

    Looking for info on ancestors that are Houma Indians. Last names of Crapell and Lovell. My Great Grandmother was Evelyn Lovell. She married Janson Bergeron. These are my Grandmother’s parents.

    • Michael L. Dardar says:

      Hi Darryl. I’m from Morgan City. My maternal grandparents were Alex Clifford Crappell/Crepel and Medora Lovell. My mother, aunts and uncles often spoke of Uncle Janson. I think they called your ggrandmother “Aunt Leen, short for Evelyn that I guess the old people pronounced e-va-leen.

      James and Lloyd visited my parents for a while farely often after I was married. James would sing and play the guitar.

      I didn’t do any research on the Bergerons, but a cousin did, and he and I did research on the Lovell/Billiot side. I’m presently out of the country so I don’t have my research with me. But I can tell you what I remember and refer you to research books that are in most libraries, the South Louisiana (red books) and Southwest Louisiana (blue books) Church and Civil Records by Rev. Donald Hebert, known as the Hebert or Father Hebert books.

      Lawrence LOVELL & Rosa BILLIOT were my grandmother’s mother. Lawrence was the son of Perry LOVELL and Juliet RADCLIFF. Perry and Juliet are buried together in Theriot.

      Rosa (Marie Rosa) was the daughter of Etienne “King” BILLIOT, Jr. (son of Etienne BILLIOT and Rosalie ROBINET) and Celesie Verret (daughter of Solomon VERRET/LAMOTTE and Eulalie VERDUN/GREGOIRE*). Some earlier researchers erroneously list Charles as King’s father. I did more on Rosalie ROBINET, but I can’t recall it now, and other researchers couldn’t find who her parents were because they failed to search in the Southwest Louisiana Records for St. Mary Parish.

      As for the CRAPPELL/CRAPELL/CREPEL (the original spelling) side, there was a name change, so there are true CREPELS and some, like my grandfather who are really BILLIOTS. His grandfather Joseph Severin son of Charles BILLIOT and Manette RENAUD used CREPEL when he enlisted in the Confederacy. At the time, the census showed Manette with August CREPEL. Severin had one son before the war, my ggrandfather Joseph Alexandre BILLIOT, who went as CREPEL/CRAPELL/etc in St. Mary Parish but mainly BILLIOT in Terrebonne. Joseph Alexandre was married to Eva Marie VERRET, daughter of Joseph VERRET and Philonise NAQUIN. Joseph was the brother of Celesie (see above) and Philonese was the daughter of Jean Marie NAQUIN and Pauline VERDUN/GREGOIRE. Pauline was Eulalie’s sister. Both are daughters of Alexander VERDUN and Marie GREGOIRE, femme sauvagess (Indian woman), also listed as “sangmele femme sauvage” (mixed Indian) and free woman of color, which all non-white people and children of a white parent and a non-white parent were called.

      The Native American blood comes through the GREGOIRE line, and that is likely Chitimacha based on the family’s earliest location. NO ONE in the so-called Houma Tribe in any of its factions trace back to documented Houma Indians, period. To use the new expression, there was a lot of alternative facts published in the past that is still in print.

      The parents of Etienne and Charles BILLIOT were Jean Baptiste BILLIOT and Marie/Mariane IRIS. You can see more about them in the BIA’s
      GENEALOGICAL REPORT ON THE UNITED HOUMA NATION, INC.
      From the original at the Bureau of Indian Affairs
      SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~laterreb/houmaindians.htm

      I hope this helps.

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