By: Belinda Brooks
Stripped of culture and tradition by the United States government in the early 1800s, the Butte Tribe of Bayou Bourbeaux has picked up the pieces under the leadership of Chief Rodger Collum and is moving forward. Collum decided to reveal his family and its history as an original tribe of Bayou Bourbeaux in April 2019. He is moving his tribe toward its own pathway. It is a conscious move toward distinctiveness as a tribe. This move was not made in disrespect or dishonor of those Native Americans who move in the customary, traditional ways. For Butte Tribe, this move to individualism is a necessity. It is built on the idea that it would be best to move forward without the concern of offending general Native American policy. Therefore, Butte Tribe will not be intentionally dishonoring the traditions of other tribes by acting on its system of custom and tradition.
“Ceremony of Feathers” was established by Chief Rodger Collum. Members, men and women, of the Butte Tribe, are required to earn their feathers in a way set forth by their chief. In general, Native American women do not wear headdresses. There are tribes throughout the United States, like Butte Tribe, where women proudly adorn themselves with feathers for special occasions.
TRIBAL ELDER PERRY DESADIER, “CEREMONY OF FEATHERS”
Chief Collum and appointed tribal members met Friday, June 12th, at St. Maurice Cemetery to prepare the burial site of Perry Desadier’s grave. The custom of digging family graves have been the responsibility of Collum since his teenage years. Perry Desadier’s gravesite is located between the graves of his mother and father, and near the graves of his ancestors, Chief Adolph Felix and Chief Clarence Desadier.
In honor of Tribal Elder Perry Desadier, the Butte Tribe held the first burial “Ceremony of Feathers.” The event occurred at the Pace Community Center in Natchitoches Parish. Butte drums and singers opened the ceremony with a traditional Native American song.
Chief Rodger Collum spoke in memory of his cousin and life-long close companion, Perry Desadier., and their times together on Bayou Bourbeaux. Perry Desadier retired after forty-eight years of employment by Collum. Collum spoke of Desadier’s hard work ethics and dedication to family and friends.
Following Collum’s speech, Rev. George Holland and Pastor David Matlock of Christian Harmony Baptist Church in Pace Community led the end of the services.
Butte family tradition for the past 50 years has required that their leader, Chief Rodger Collum, be the driver escort of family bodies to the grave. At regular funerals, Chief Collum drives the hearse at the request of the family. In expected form, Collum escorted the ashes of Desadier to his burial site.
Ceremony Pictures – Pace Community Center Memorial
Butte Tribe’s pastor, George Holland, spoke words over Desadier’s gravesite. Joe Friday, Perry Desadier’s son, placed his father’s ashes in his burial place. Chief Collum spoke, and had the honor of placing the first shovel of dirt in Perry’s grave. At that point, each attending tribe member followed their chief’s lead by shoveling dirt. The congregation returned to Pace Community Center for lunch.
Burial Pictures – St. Maurice Cemetery