Butte Tribe celebrates Summer Gathering; Plans for emergencies

It’s harvest time at Butte Gardens. Chief Rodger Collum provided a fresh produce market free of charge to Butte Tribe active members who attended the tribe’s Summer business meeting. Collum is seen holding one of many FEMA Emergency backpacks that were disbursed to individual families that attended the meeting. Vice-Chief Belinda Brooks and Council member Brad Desadier are seen backing up Chief Collum on the podium.

Belinda Brooks
Butte Tribe members met on their homeland Saturday, June 28 to conduct tribal business and distribute Butte Garden produce. The informal, working meeting included a barbecue lunch fundraiser at the end.
Special speaker for the day’s meeting was Butte Tribe’s own Vice-Chief Belinda Brooks. Topics discussed were Butte Tribe’s Bureau of Indian Affair’s (BIA) member registration, the Louisiana Governor’s Emergency Preparedness Project and the Healthy Tribe Initiative.

Chief Rodger Collum with Butte Tribe member Jacqueline Garrett, winner of the Summer Gathering, a Taurus 9 mm pistol door prize. This was Garrett’s first visit to tribal lands. She drove to Bayou Bourbeaux from Virginia. Vice-Chief Belinda Brooks stands at the podium in the background.

Brooks explained where the federal BIA committee was on the completion of the tribe’s BIA member registration process. The process is a complex, intense listing of each member’s ancestors leading to each member’s Native American ancestry. This includes documented proof of each ancestor’s parentage or birth record. Butte Tribe BIA Committee has been working on their “Active” membership since June of 2021 when the BIA contacted the tribe to request their membership documentation. After reviewing the tribe’s petition the BIA acknowledged that the submission looked great and that it was obvious that Butte Tribe knew and understood what was needed for their consideration. The BIA reported to Butte Tribe’s representative, Council Chief Belinda “Bella” Haag, the only component missing for the BIA recognition process to begin was the tribe’s individual membership documentation. The documentation will be ready to mail within the next two to three months.
This article published in the July 7, 2022, print edition.

Butte Tribe’s current project with the State of Louisiana, Brooks explained, is the Butte Emergency & Awareness Response (B.E.A.R) Network. In the winter of 2021, Rudy Macklin of the Louisiana Governor’s Office contacted Brooks to include Butte Tribe of Bayou Bourbeaux in the Emergency Preparedness and Healthy Tribal Initiative. Collum and the Butte Tribe Council approved, and the project was underway. The purpose of the BEAR Network is to minimize fear and save lives in the event of a natural disaster or pandemic outbreak. Additionally, Butte Tribe will ensure that tribal residents do not fall through the cracks when federal, state, and charitable organizations distribute disaster relief items through FEMA assistance.
Regarding the healthy tribe initiative, Chief Rodger Collum facilitated the creation of the 2022 Butte Tribe Gardens. Collum gathered crops that were ready to be harvested and prepared shelled bags of field peas stored on ice for tribal members who attended the meeting.
Members of Butte Tribe received FEMA emergency backpacks to prepare for emergency evacuations in case of natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, etc. Tribal evacuations plans will provide ease of access to FEMA assistance during times of emergency.

The Governor’s office supplied FEMA Emergency backpacks loaded with evacuation supplies for Butte Tribe members. Tribe clan evacuation captains, tribal elders and working members of the tribe who attended were given the first order of backpacks. The remainder of active families that attend Butte tribal gatherings will receive backpacks in stages as the backpacks are received from the Governor’s office.
Danny Trichell, member of Butte Tribe and Ouachita Parish Fire Fighter, addressed his tribe as a professional emergency facilitator and explained the purpose and use of the FEMA emergency backpacks delivered to the tribal active members during the summer gathering.

Butte Tribe member Jacqueline Garrett, who lives in Virginia, won the pistol door prize. This was Jacqueline’s first visit to her tribal gathering. Other first time member visitors were Jerry Wilson and Vicky Acy.
Those interested in knowing more about the history of Butte Tribe of Bayou Bourbeaux can read about it by visiting BUTTETRIBE.ORG and reading the Chiefs’ History.
Little Caroline Weisskopf, daughter of Bethany Banes, insists on helping bag and deliver vegetables to tribal elders like her older siblings. Love for our youth is expressed in Butte Tribe’s Mission statement, “To ensure that honorable leaders, teachers and protectors arise from the mist of our tribe to lead and guide in ways of our elders, by being the action, legacy and voice of our past, present and future.” Teaching our children to be respectful, helpful and caring of their elders in top priority.