The Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas

Young members of Louisiana’s Houma Nation try to reclaim tribe’s lost language

By Marc Guarino January 2 at 11:03 AM
NEW ORLEANS — Even though Janie Luster has lived in Bayou Dularge all her life, in some ways she is still a stranger to the land.

The tiny water-bound fishing community in southwestern Louisiana is rich with the culture of the Cajuns that are familiar to so many, but Luster, 62, is 100 percent Houma, an indigenous Indian tribe of which little is known.

The tribe’s language consists of so few words that she has named her two dogs the Houma words for raccoon (chaoui) and perch (naní) just to keep them in circulation.

“We only have a handful of words left,” she says. “The more time goes by, the more time we lose. Our elders are passing on.”

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Updated: August 4, 2016 — 4:22 pm

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