All photography provided by Shirell Parfait-Dardar
The Governing Body
The governing body of the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band is the Tribal Chief, Tribal Council and the Council of Elders. The Tribal Council is comprised of seven council members and the Council of Elders is comprised of four senior members.
Chairperson - Marlene V. Foret
1st Deputy Chief - Dana Parfait-Menard
2nd Deputy Chief - Crystlyn Rodrigue
Council Member - Katelyn Gregoire
Council Member - Valerie P. Rodrigue
Council Member - Chantelle G. Solet
Council Member - Kendrick Solet
Council of Elders:
Tante Geraldine Parfait Carrere
Tante Andrea B. Parfait
Nonk Rev. Martin (Sam) Parfait
Nonk Wilton N. (Pierre) Parfait, Jr.
The Indian people of the Grand Caillou/Dulac community are descendants of the early 19th century residents of Bayou Terrebonne (Billiot, LaForet, Dardar, Solet, Verdin, and Courteau) and Bayou Little Caillou.
Shortly after the great influx of Anglo settlers and land speculators along Bayou Terrebonne, between 1810 and 1820, many of these early Indian families left the area, some went eastward - to Isle Jean Charles and Pointe-aux-Chene - eventually to lower Lafourche Parish - and some to the west, along Bayou Little Caillou.
Up to the 1830's most of the land along Bayou Little Caillou was considered "public lands" or land owned by the U. S. Congress, but many Indian families can be documented living there before then and included modern Indian names such as Billiot, Verret, Fitch, Robinson, Smith, Jaco, Gregoire, Verdin, Courteau, Dion, Dardar and Parfait. The U. S. Census of Bayou Little Caillou in 1850 listed only eight families of Indian surnames. This census did not give the maiden names of the female spouses, but they can be found in church and civil records. By 1910 only two families of Indian ancestry were living on Little Caillou.
BAYOU GRAND CAILLOU
In the community of Grand Caillou/Dulac there were several small Indian settlements, and four graveyards where Indians could be buried: the Prevost Cemetery (no longer in use), Dulac Cemetery, Felix Canal Cemetery (destroyed by water), and Bayou LaButte Cemetery (destroyed by water). There were small sub-communities at Felix Canal, Bayou LaButte, Deer Island, Bayou Chene, and Bayou Mauvais Bois, which were of a permanent nature. There were many areas in the swamps where entire families went each year for trapping, creating temporary sub-communities because families used the same leased trapping area each year.
Most of these families lived year-round in houseboats.
Shrimpers and trappers worked on a "share" basis. Most of the Indians did not own boats but were able to obtain the use of boats by giving a share of the haul to the owner of the boat as rent and to cover advanced expenses. Shrimping also provided income to girls and women who worked at the shrimp drying and processing plants.
Most of the fishing was done from Cocodrie. Fish were preserved by smoking and was also a family affair, called "tasso making." Family groups traveled by boat to the site of the fishing and camped out several days to clean and dry the freshly caught garfish over racks that were placed over outdoor fires. There was a lot of socializing, reunions, and courting during "tasso" time.
"Grocery boats" provided the trappers and fishermen in the far-out bayous with necessary staple goods as late as the 1950's.
Besides a diet of seafood (shrimp, oysters, crabs and fish), families ate game such as ducks, geese, marsh hens, coons, squirrel and rabbits. A few raised chickens. Only a few staple foods, such as rice, beans, sugar, flour and coffee, were bought from peddlers who traveled first by boat, then horse and wagon, and later by the "rolling stores" - buses that carried a multitude of goods, including ice and fabrics for sewing, and always smelled of kerosene.
Cash was earned by working in the cane fields, swamping (cutting timber in the swamps, then floating it to the mill by way of the bayous), and moss picking.
Members of the Grand Caillou/Dulac Community are descendants of these early people and still live in the area, many still earning a living by shrimping. Almost all of Shrimpers Row, from Bobtown down, are Indian, as well as the area below Coast Guard Point.
Even though our youth are now able to get an education thanks to the desegregation efforts of the late 60's, many students still fall behind because they need tutoring, coming from illiterate homes. There is very limited assistance or funding for tutors, or hope of a higher education or training because funds are extremely limited for non-federally acknowledged tribes.
Many of our Tribal members get medical care through the local university hospital. Living conditions for many, especially our elders is little improved from the early part of the twentieth century. Housing is sub-standard and many members must rely on government assistance programs to ensure their survival.
Unemployment for our working-age adults is high because of lack of education and training, a result of the days of segregation. The seasonal work as seafood factory laborers once steadily available to them more than a decade ago is no longer a thriving industry and many factories have permanently closed their doors due to a severe decline of resources, repeated flood damage and increasing insurance rates.
The chain of poverty and deprivation continues.
Currently twenty-four years into the Federal Acknowledgement process we anticipate a positive Final Determination will bring much needed help in addressing these problems and others for the Indian people of Grand Caillou/Dulac and all Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw people.