In the heart of the “Big Country”, between the Atchafalaya and Mississippi River basins, in a place known as the Yakni Chitto, decedents of the Petites Nations and the Houma Nation have survived in the coastal delta bayous where life is connected by waterways, the seasons, the tides, the moon and relationships.
After Hurricane Ida generational residents of Grand Bois, Louisiana, Clarice Molinere Friloux, a matriarch of the United Houma Nation and her husband Danny Friloux, of Acadian descent, both envisioned building a replica of Clarice’s great-grandmother Celestine Verdin’s house, where medicinal gardens would grow outside, along with traditional vegetables and fruit trees. A home place that will be used as a classroom and site for celebration and skills sharing in good times; And in times of uncertainty or emergency it can be used as a battery charging station and emergency distribution/communication center for community.
Since that time, Danny and Clarice have continued to dream and work to build out what they have envisioned-a site that is literally in their own backyard – where intergenerational gatherings can be hosted for folks from down the bayou and beyond to connect, where traditional skills can be shared and where circular economies can be activated. A place where Indigenous architecture and technologies meet twenty-first century possibilities that can support food-ways and food sovereignty strategizing, where solar education and community owned power can be accessed, where the wisdom of the past informs and inspires modern adaptations.
Clarice and Danny are calling relatives and friends to seed and build this vision of a Solar Medicine House in their community. Clarice’s cousin, Monique Verdin and their Houma sister Dr. Tammy Greer are helping to support the gardens bringing plant knowledge and wisdom, labor, love and support from a network of Indigenous Gardeners gardeners rooted to the Okla Hina Ikhish Holo (People of the Sacred Medicine Trail).
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Footprint Solar project helped to setup a small generator and wifi hotspots that assisted with helping to support in getting community members internet access and the Saint Bernard Project helped to support setting up systems so folks in the area were able to apply for assistance through FEMA and the SBA.
The Solar Medicine house is being built out of cypress planks, a palmetto roof and a mud and moss chimney like the original structure was constructed. Some of the cypress has been harvested from surrounding areas that had trees uprooted or knocked down from the strong winds of hurricanes past; instead of the trees being left to rot we will be able to make them useful.
Danny Friloux and community have made these trees reusable by purchasing a sawmill and woodworking tools to teach visitors that even after a disaster damaged trees can be used for repairing and building homes, boats, small tools and crafts.
Special thanks to our Accomplices and Friends, especially the School House 4 ReImagining Education, the Land Memory Bank & Seed Exchange, FootPrint Project, Mondo Bizarro Productions, Okla Hina Ikhish Holo, Another Gulf is Possible, the Neighborhood Story Project, the Gulf South Open School & Sierra Club.
Help seed the medicine gardens in Grand Bois and support building out the Healing House!