Natchitoches Tribe celebrates Blessing of the Land and Groundbreaking

Participants of the ceremony were, from left, NTL Council Chiefs Belinda Smith, David Desadier Sr., Noah Shows (fire tender), Gaye Lynn Pohlmeyer, Peggy Smith, Frank Perot, Primary Chief Fred Simon, Winnie Perot, Vice-Chief Janette Melton and Ruby Gray.

The Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana (NTL) celebrated the Ceremonial Blessing of the Land and Groundbreaking Saturday, Aug. 14 in Campti. A gathering of tribal leaders, members and guests assembled at the Campti Bayou Road site to celebrate the return of ancestral land to the tribe.

Tribe members Jurae Leatherman-Hunter and Audrica Young at the Blessing of the Land and Groundbreaking.

Earlier this year, a group of NTL Council Chiefs began a dedicated search for land for the tribe. That search led to property that had belonged to a Meziere ancestor for many years before being sold. The heirs of Earnestine Meziere worked with the NTL Council to enable us to reacquire that land, located on Campti Bayou Road. This property is being prepared for the location of an office, cultural/research center and powwow site.

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The Blessing of the Land Ceremony began with lighting the ceremonial fire by Noah Shows. Shows represents the age that young Natchitoches Indian males begin adulthood and his selection as fire tender is an honor that he will continue to hold in years to come.

Audrica Young requested that no photos or videos be made during the ritual. Young, assisted by Jurae Leatherman-Hunter, led the very moving ceremonial procedure. Edgar Bush and guest singers from the Canneci N’de Band of Lipan Apache tribe sang the blessing song while the assembled group participated in the cleansing/blessing observance. The fire tender tossed the first shovel of dirt onto the fire, thus completing his duty and ending the ceremony. Groundbreaking by the Chiefs of Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana (NTL) followed the blessing ceremony.

From left are Brian Thomas, Dan Guidry, Agnes Guidry, Alfreda Mathieu, Louann Moses, Mary Lee Winn, Edgar Bush of the Canneci N’de Band of Lipan Apache.

Louisiana history records Natchitoches indians as early as the late 1600s. In 1758, St. Denis directed that the Natchitoches Tribe be moved from Fort Jean Baptiste to the Black Lake area outside the town of Campti.

Decendents of those indians still live in the Black Lake community and surrounding areas. Governmental and political regulations in the 1830’s led the Natchitoches Indians as well as others to blend with the non-indian population. Although this blending resulted in the loss of tribal customs and language, the connection of the people in the Black Lake area remain strong as is noted on the historical marker located on Hart Road, just off Highway 9.

In 2006, a group of ladies researched their native american ancestory and formed the basis for resurrecting the Natchitoches Tribe. In 2018, the Natchitoches Tribe of Louisiana celebrated its state recognition.