By Belinda Brooks
Dreams do come true! On Saturday, March 19, Butte Tribe came together to celebrate the life of their first chief, White Smoke. A Louisiana Historical Highway Marker denoting the life of Chief White Smoke, his daring adventures, a life well lived on Bayou Bourbeaux, and his burial mound was presented to friends and families of Butte Tribe. The Historical Department of Louisiana State University approved the marker placed on Butte Tribe land at 1458 Hwy 1226, Natchitoches.
This dream began for White Smoke’s current generation when his chosen descendants faithfully retold their tribe’s oral history. Butte Tribe’s oral history was last handed down to a little boy beginning at the age of 5. That little boy sat with his grandparents and elders for over 10 years to learn about his family’s indigenous history in both Texas and Louisiana. He carried those stories with him for more than six decades until the threats of discrimination were gone and the time was right to reveal the secrets of his people. That little boy grew into the sixth chief of his people, Chief Rodger Collum. His stories tell the complete history of the indigenous people that lived on his family land for over 200 years. Catholic Church records, Natchitoches court documents and Louisiana History all tell of the Native American ancestors directly linked to the Butte Tribe: White Smoke & Two Moons (Texas Mission Indians), Marie Anne Theresa De La Grande Terre (Chitimacha), Marie Jeanie De La Grande Terre (Chitimacha), Marie Jeanie of the Caddos, Anne of the Caddos, Juan Antonio Flores (Los Adaes), Juana DelRio and Jose Matheo Perez (Texas Mission Indian.)
Numerous State and Parish officials attended the event. Representative Gabe Firment was instrumental in working with Butte Tribe to obtain the marker. Senator Louie Bernard, a long-time friend of Chief Collum, extended his congratulations to the tribe for the great honor paid to Chief White Smoke. Butte Tribe greeted Natchitoches Clerk of Court David Stamey and expressed their appreciation for his help locating key documents that proved the existence of tribal history. Other welcomed guests who attended to show their support of Butte Tribe were Natchitoches Sheriff Stuart Wright and Vern Guidroz of Exchange Bank.
Special Speaker Durand “Rudy” Macklin, Director of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Bureaus of Minority Health Access and Promotions, and Director of the Governor’s Council for Physical Fitness & Sports, addressed Butte Tribe members. Butte Tribe will work in conjunction with the Louisiana Governor’s Council to provide the “Emergency Preparedness and Healthy Tribe Initiative” for its members throughout Louisiana. Macklin commended Butte Tribe for their committed work for the health and the well-being of their tribe. In addition, he expressed his appreciation for the active role that Chief Collum has set for his people.
To read more about Butte Tribe and the adventures of White Smoke, go to BUTTETRIBE.ORG and click Chiefs’ History.