NIDA Contest Entry

Rae, United Houma Nation, Age 25, Louisiana

River Delta Resilience

Aletu! I’m from the United Houma Nation in southeast Louisiana. This piece is set in the delta I live in and strives to connect the past to the present. Two girls camp among the cypress and live oak trees near the river, watching the stars and fireflies. One is in a traditional palmetto hut, and the other is in a modern tent. A mound garden is growing behind them, and in front a young persimmon tree is fruiting. A white alligator swims in the front. All of the plants represented have important medicinal and/or cultural uses.

Throughout my life and in work I do with Native youth, I find that connections with our history and cultural activities provide a source of resilience, practices and knowledge to fall back on in times of trouble or in preparing for our future. I find I’m happiest when I’m out in nature, whether it’s hiking trails through the forest, listening to stories around a campfire, climbing the branches of a live oak tree, learning how to plant a traditional food forest and garden, or harvesting medicinal and food plants. These things have given me a healthy outlet during hard times, rather than turning to substance abuse. I tried to depict these many different things in my work.

Hi Auntie! I recently have been using crystals but am curious about Native American religion since I am Native American myself, I don’t want to betray any religion but I just want to know if I can believe in both!

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