Did you know that November is Native American Heritage Month? It’s a time when our nation recognizes and celebrates the important contributions Native Americans made to the establishment and growth of the United States.
In Louisiana, the Elton FFA Chapter celebrates Native American culture year-round. Thirteen of the 80 Elton FFA members are Native Americans hailing from the nearby Coushatta tribe.
“Elton FFA has had many Native American members who have served as officers and committee members, and have been participants on winning state career development teams,” says Elton FFA advisor Lana Myers.
Elton FFA honors its members’ Native American culture by assisting the local Coushatta tribe with its monthly farmers market. The chapter even signs an annual Memorandum of Understanding that states what is expected of members during the market.
“Our chapter pledges to have workers at each monthly market [from October through June] to assist the tribe with making its market successful,” Myers says. “The partnership started in 2010 so the community would see how important agriculture is to our students, school and community.”
During the market, which is held the first Saturday of each month, Elton FFA members set up tents, assist vendors with booth setup, serve refreshments, help customers carry their purchases to their vehicles and tear down booths at the end of the day. Meanwhile, they learn about the traditions of the tribe, including sampling dishes such as cha-wah-ka, a corn soup.
“What I like most at the farmers market, besides talking with others, is eating the Indian tacos,” says Dahntay Robinson, an Elton FFA member who is a member of the Coushatta tribe. “They have fried bread with meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa.”
“My grandpa was the chairman for the tribe a few years ago, and my grandma makes baskets,” says Cassidy Hill, another Elton FFA member from the Coushatta tribe. “Weaving baskets, speaking our language and dancing are all big traditions in our tribe.”
Like Robinson, Hill enjoys tasting all the different foods at the farmers market. Elton FFA also serves its community by helping with the Southwest Louisiana Veterans’ Home Fishing Rodeo each year, where members provide companionship to the veterans in the fishing tournament. It’s a favorite service project among many of Elton FFA’s members.
“It’s rewarding to meet the veterans and hear their stories about their journey in the military,” Hill says.
“I like how we get to spend time with elders and have good conversations with them,” he says. “It’s surprisingly fun listening to what they have to say while waiting to catch a fish.”