In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, the Newcomb Art Museum in partnership with the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South will present On Remembering, a conversation between indigenous artist Monique Verdin, a citizen of the Houma Nation, director of the Land Memory Bank & Seed Exchange and a member of the Another Gulf Is Possible Collaborative, and Rachel Breunlin, co-founder and director of the Neighborhood Story Project.
In conjunction with the virtual conversation, a pop-up exhibition, Return to Yakni Chitto, is currently on view at the first floor of the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library. Exploring the complex interconnectedness of environment, economics, culture, climate and change in the Mississippi River Deltas’ indigenous Houma Nation, the installation tells an autobiographical story of ancestral migration and community resilience in the face of environmental and social injustice. Curated by Michel Varisco, the exhibition features a collage of photographs by Monique Verdin and text by poet Raymond “Moose” Jackson.
“Yakni Chitto” is the indigenous Mobilian Trade Language name for “Big Country.” These words geographically refer to the quickly disappearing swampland between the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers – land which has remained unceded by its native inhabitants for more than 300 years. Inspired by the narratives and historic photos of her great grandmother Celestine Verdin‘s family home in Point-aux-Chenes – in present day Terrebonne Parish just north of Isle de Jean Charles – Verdin’s work pays homage to the ways of life preserved by the Houma diaspora throughout the Gulf South.
The exhibit, on view through Oct. 14, is produced by the Neighborhood Story Project and the Department of Anthropology & Sociology at University of New Orleans, and presented at Tulane in partnership with Newcomb Art Museum and the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South with special thanks to the Tulane University Libraries.
Premiering online on Oct. 12 at 10 a.m. CT, On Remembering is anchored from work in Brandan Bmike Odums’
NOT Supposed 2 BE Here and filmed at the historic Old Spanish Fort Ruins. Verdin and Breunlin discuss the planetary “power point” of the Mississippi River where it enters the Gulf of Mexico, as detailed in Verdin’s recent book Return to Yakni Chitto: Houma Migrations. On Remembering will also feature a special reading by the writer, poet and performer Raymond “Moose” Jackson. Like water and good conversation, organizers say participants should expect a meandering flow, actively recalling the past to fulfill the needs of the present while channeling the future and the horizontal point individuals must be prepared, eventually, to meet.
The premiere, at 10 a.m. on Oct. 12, will be followed be a live Zoom Q&A with Verdin and Breunlin at 6 p.m. that same day. To register for the Q&A, email email@example.com. To learn more about the exhibition and how to watch the conversation, visit newcombartmuseum.tulane.edu.