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About us: The Lacombe Heritage Center is a continuation of the Bayou Lacombe Bicentennial Community, established to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the American Revolutionary War and the founding of the United States as a republic on July 4, 1776. The LHC morphed from that effort . Here is some basic information about us.
Lacombe is an unincorporated village on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain between Slidell and Mandeville. It was settled about 1720 in order to trade with the French colony of Nouvelle Orleans across Lake Pontchartrain on the Mississippi river.
The LHC is a continuation of the Heritage division of the Bayou Lacombe Bicentennial Commission organized in 1975. Through Heritage we produced a commemorative book on Lacombe; produced a TV film documentary on the Chacta-Creole tradition of Les Toussaints les Lumieres du Morte, which won the George Foster Peabody Award.
Heritage established the Bayou Lacombe Rural Museum; and has done many presentations on our historical and cultural heritage. We also collaborate with government, business, schools, museums, libraries, and other civic nonprofit organizations. The LHC is a concept that coordinates talent, ability, and contributions rather than being a single physical entity, although, we are working on developing several physical extensions related to our concept. We have several proposals, plans, programs, and projects in process. Help is always appreciated!
For instance, a hoped for St. Tammany Heritage Museum at the USFWS HQs, and a linear museum along the Tammany Trace and down Lake Rd. in Lacombe are planned.
Since Lacombe is the gateway to the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge we were instrumental in the movement to Save Our Lake and the Big Branch Marsh in the 1980s and 90s. Through our two environmental divisions: STEP–St. Tammany Environmental Patrol, and LEAP––Lacombe Environmental Action Project we have obtained grants from the La. Dept. of Environmental Quality to transform Lake Rd and Bayou Paquet Rd. from illegal dump sites into useable and beautiful recreation areas.
We recently won a Gulf Guardian Award 2004 from the Gulf of Mexico Program for our Project Adopt-A-Spot: Learn, Work, Play. We were presented the Eco- Award 2004 by Earth Beautiful Foundationfor our “numerous contributions to St. Tammany Parish and the State of Louisiana in the areas of Environment, tourism and Job Creation.” Through our Louisiana Video Productions, we were also a 2004 winner of the AEGIS Award “for Excellence in Video and Film Production for our “Wood & Water” video for the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum.
Our Archaeological Division is working on several things, including identification of sites for Vision 2025, a search and survey of the old Creole cemeteries in St. Tammany Parish, and a search and survey of Buchu ‘wa Choctaw village near the headwaters of Bayou Lacombe..
Project HEAD–Heritage Education Awareness Development started in two Lacombe schools and does environmental, historical, and cultural presentations at schools, museums, conferences, and festivals.
CHIEF-Choctaw Heritage Indian Enterprises and Folklife is our marketing cooperative which provides access for products to the worldwide market.
The LHC wishes to provide participatory opportunities for our people who have something to contribute to the mix, and from which to develop economic viability. We are not an organization that insists upon dues, but upon dos
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND GOALS
The Lacombe Heritage Center is the successor of the Heritage, Horizon, and Festival portions of the 1976 Bayou Lacombe Bicentennial Community Celebration. As such, we were instrumental in the following list of activities:
1) Publication of the Lacombe Bicentennial Commemorative Book, 1976. This 113 page book deals with prehistoric First American civilization, history and culture; the 284 year European conquest and colonization period, and the 200 years of U.S. history, plus the contemporary folklife of the area entering the last quarter of the 20th century. Funds from the sale of this book were used to establish the Bayou Lacombe Rural Museum.
2) Production of a short film documentary on the Chacta-Creole, Choctaw-Catholic ceremonial ritual of Les Lumieres du Morte, 1976. It was honored with broadcast journalism’s prestigious George Foster Peabody Award.
3) Development of the Bayou Lacombe Rural Museum, 1976, in the oldest two-room wooden schoolhouse (circa 1913) in St. Tammany Parish. It houses a small collection of Choctaw, French, African, Creole, and Anglo documents, photographs, artifacts, displays, and exhibits from the twentieth century.
4) Development of the Bayou Lacombe Crab Festival, 1977 by Ads Infinitum Advertising Agency for the people of Lacombe. It was incorporated as a private nonprofit corporation in 1978. This once popular event was designed to be a funding mechanism for the people of Lacombe in support of community activities such as parks and recreation, firefighting and emergency services, heritage education and museums, and other various nonprofit civic and community organizations, as well as a source for secured small business loans.
Despite the stated intent of converting the festival corporation into a public operation in 1986 with 200 shares issued to a holding company of Lacombe citizens, and 100 shares issued equally among Recreation District 4, the Lacombe Volunteer Fire Department and the Bayou Lacombe Rural Museum, instead it was taken over by private interests. Despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised through this festival, and the enormous potential it originally had for raising continuing revenues for the coummunity, the money was drained away. It deteriorated so badly due to incompetence and mismanagement that in 2005 it was scuttled.
5) Horizon saved the Lacombe Park, 1978. Although deeded to the people of Lacombe in 1913, a provision in the deed required return of the land to the estate of the donor if it were not used as a park within the time allotted. We were able to act in time, have the property cleared, improved, and designated as a parish park with plans to provide non taxpayer funding.
6) Designated by the parish government as an official tourism agency for the area in mid-1970s.
7) The LHC was officially registered with the State of Louisiana as a non-profit organization in 1983and were successful in having the Crab Festival designated as a Top 20 Tourism attraction for the first time. Through our efforts, both the Bayou Lacombe Rural Museum and the Bayou Lacombe Crab Festival were designated as official Louisiana Worlds Fair Attractions, 1984.
8) From the Lacombe Heritage Center came the revival of the St. Tammany Environmental Patrol, the Save Our Live Oaks, and the formation of the Lacombe Environmental Action Project, 1983; which were instrumental in the Save Our Lake project, and the acquisition of 15,000 acres of the Big Branch Marsh as a Wildlife Refuge, 1992. (STEP is the conceptual and educational effort to recruit junior high and high school students into a Junior Ranger Corps that identifies dumpsites, and cleans and maintains them free of litter. LEAP implements such projects as restoration of wetlands and installing bog garden environmental learning centers at schools. (This was done at Slidell High using student labor and DEQ grant funds in 1999).
9) Project Heritage Education Awareness Development, (HEAD), 1997 brought prototype heritage curriculum to two local schools; teaching through presentations and demonstrations, the local Indian, French, Spanish, Creole, African, and Anglo cultures.
10) Choctaw Heritage Indian Enterprises and Folklife (CHIEF) conducted free weekly seminars for adults on First American history and culture during 1997.
11) The Lacombe Heritage Center coordinated FancoFete ’99 Tricentennial activities in St. Tammany Parish engaging in heritage festivals, instructional seminars, receptions for the French Consul, and the dedication of a monumental site for Pierre LeMoyne Sieur d’Iberville and three hundred years of French cultural influence in Louisiana. We also presented programs on the great 19th century Creole novelist, poet, author, and missionary to the Choctaw Indians, Pere Adrien E. Rouquette.
12 ) We participated in the Local Legacies Project for the Bicentennial of the Library of Congress, 1999, submitting audio and videotapes, photographs, books, maps, and printed documentation of folklife in the Florida Parishes at the end of the twentieth century. Our project was nominated by U. S. Senator Mary Landrieu.
13) The LHC was officially incorporated as a 501© 3 non-profit in July of 2000.
14) We started a series of seminars and cultural events called “To Glorify Creole” in collaboration with the Creole Heritage Center and the Heritage Educational Institute at the University of Northwest Louisiana in Natchitoches, and the St. Tammany Library system, 2000.
15) In 2003, we were invited to exhibit our “Art Will Make You Smart” traveling museum on the Chacta-Creole heritage at the Creole Studies Consortium in New Orleans sponsored by Northwestern and Tulane Universities.
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE INCLUDE:
- A) Establishing the longest oak alley in the world, by planting 3,047 live oak trees as the backbone of a mile wide linear environmental sanctuary for birds and people, along 31 miles of the Tammany Trace as a 9/11 Living Memorial to the victims of the terrorist Attack on America.
This will be part of the North American Transcontinental Bluebird Trail linking Lacombe, Louisiana with our “twin” city Lacombe, Alberta, Canada. We are working to twin the State of Louisiana with the Province of Alberta.
- B) We would like to publish a quarterly Lacombe Heritage Center Journal featuring information on our environmental, historical, and cultural heritage to be distributed locally and on the Internet.C) We plan to produce videos and printed publications on factual historical accounts of the history and culture of the people of the area and to produce a monthly TV program on cable access entitled Spectrum Perspectives.D) In collaboration with other historical and cultural organizations we plan to continue our presentations and programs on genealogy, heritage, and history as part of an ongoing series entitled “Lies My Louisiana History Teacher Taught Me.E) Through “Le Tour du Iberville“ we present a series of touring lectures and seminars in various locales along a route taken by the French-Canadian expedition of 1699 exploring the northern Gulf Coast, through a series of markers, monuments, museums, attractions, activities, and events.
F) In October 2002, in collaboration with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Maritime Museum, the Saint Tammany Historical Society, and Southeastern Louisiana University we produced a program on Colonial Shipwrecks along the Northern Gulf Coast featuring three emminent authorities:from Texas, Dr. James Bruseth, Project Director of the marine archeological excavation of Rene Robert Cavalier Sieur de La Salle’s ship “La Belle;” from the University of West Florida, Dr. John Bratten discussed the oldest shipwreck in North America, and Dr. of LSU spoke about the Spanish treasure ship El Nuevo Constante. During October of 2003 we produced a month long series on Native American history, art, and culture and an exhibit of artifacts from the Spanish treasure ship El Nuevo Constante.In August 2004 we participated in a reenactment of the Battle of Fort Mims in Alabama, and operated an informational booth in April and November at the Louisiana Indian Heritage Association Pow Wows. G) For the Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial 2003 we were to present a Tammany Literary Festival featuring and focusing on the works of the 19th century Creole writers and poets, the brothers Rouquette: Dominique, Adrien, and Terance. This was to be done in collaboration with Southeast Louisiana University, and the University of New Orleans. Dr. Chris Michaelides of the University of Louisiana in Monroe, and Dr. Michael Picone of the University of Alabama were to coordinate with the Lacombe Heritage Center in this effort. (Unfortunately, it was not successful due to lack of funding. Another attempt Feb. 26, 2005 using local talent, including Carl Fedrowich, researcher, historian, writer and computer advartus from Bonfuca, LA was successful.
- H) We are in the process of developing plans for an Environmental Education Linear Museum along Lake Rd. in the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge culminating in a user-friendly monument to 300 years of history at the end of Lake Rd. and an observational walkway extending into Lake Pontchartrain.I) A traveling Chacta-Creole museum “Art Will Make You Smart” was developed with a grant from the La. Division of Art through the St. Tammany Arts Commission. Development of a Chacta-Creole Linear Museum along the Tammany Trace is also being considered.J) Development of a Choctaw Nature Trail that will link parks, recreation facilities, museums, trails, wildlife refuges and management areas along existing infrastructures. This trail’s sites were recommended to the state by the Lacombe Heritage Center to be included in the Louisiana Gulf Coast Wetlands Birding Trail.
Both our immediate, intermediate and our long-range goals, require funding. We seek funds from whatever sources are appropriate, be they governmental, business, fund-raisers, organizations, individuals, or foundations. We are a 501© 3 tax-exempt non-profit so all donations are tax deductible.
Since its inception, I have funded the Lacombe Heritage Center through my businesses: Ads Infinitum Advertising Agency, Louisiana Video Productions, and Aries 27 Building and Landscaping, Inc. I am no longer able to continue this funding. Our volunteer staff gives their time and talents to accomplish the mission statement of the Lacombe Heritage Center: To preserve, protect, promote, present, and pass along the environmental, historical, and cultural heritage of our area.
Your help is needed and appreciated.
Tom Aicklen, Coordinator
Lacombe Heritage Center
a.k.a. Warren White Ram
Indian A. Jones Tours
Choctaw Heritage Indian Enterprises & Folklife
St.Tammany Environmental Patrol
Lacombe Environmental Action Project
Heritage Education Awareness Development
Save Our Live Oaks
Bayou Lacombe Bicentennial Community and other underlined links are under development. Please bear with us and check back as this site will be corrected, improved, and up-dated as we progress.