Tag Archives: Houma Nation

The History Channel’s Swamp People Houma Nation Stars are Hosted at Julyamsh

“Alligators in the swamp have no predators,” Jay Paul said. “An alligator is a killing machine. If he thinks it’s edible he’s going to eat it. They’ll try anything.” The crowd had lots of questions and Jay Paul and RJ Molinere answered them all.

Have you ever watched the TV show Swamp People on the History Channel? If not, put it on your list of things to do this fall as two members of the Houma Nation, RJ Molinere and his son, Jay Paul, are featured on the show. They are shown doing what they would be doing anyway – killing alligators. Living off the land and bayous, fishing, crabbing, shrimping, hunting, trapping—all components that have long been a way of life for these people of Louisiana.

They were hosted at Julyamsh Powwow in mid-July by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, and during their two days here the line of people to meet them, to have a photo taken with them, and perhaps purchase a T-shirt and have it autographed, seemed never ending. It was obvious the show was well known and well liked, and, that RJ and Jay Paul are a big part of that.

Hunting alligators has been part of RJ’s life since he was little, and he finds the past two years of Swamp People rather amazing. “Three years ago I would have never thought that a show like the History Channel brought out would have turned out like this. I’ve been catching alligators for close to 36 years. The History Channel’s sharing it with the world.”

Hunting alligators has also been a major part of RJ’s income for many years. He says that when he started he received about $80 a foot for each animal taken. Times have changed for a variety of reasons, and prices are now much lower, about $28 a foot for the larger alligators and down to half that amount for smaller ones. Last year, the two of them, working as a team, filled their 525 alligator tags during the month-long, September season. The big difference now is they will have from one to five cameramen in the boat with them to film their work for the show.

In addition to their fame in hunting alligators, both men are exceptional athletes. RJ is an outstanding arm wrestler, having won four World Championships at 154 pounds. He is an eleven time National Champion, two time Arnold Classic Armwrestling Champion, and two time GNC champion.

Jay Paul, now 23, calls himself an adrenaline junkie and is a golden gloves champion and an undefeated mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter.

There is one drawback to the notoriety that came with the TV show; the time now spent traveling the country to attend fishing and hunting shows and pow wows cuts into other hobbies. “We don’t get to hunt as much. We don’t get to work out as much. I don’t get to arm wrestle as much and Jay doesn’t get to fight as much – things like that,” RJ said.

“But it’s for the people,” RJ explains. “We put that on hold a little while. It’s more of a spirit. We put that other stuff aside and take care of the stuff that needs to be taken care of.” He explained that at many shows the lines to meet them continues nonstop for 7 or 8 hours at a time.

This trip to Julyamsh provided an opportunity to bring part of the family along and make it partly a vacation. “This was real special,” RJ said.  His wife Stacey and daughter Brittany both made the trip, along with her youngsters, A’yiana and Jhai. The adults helped out selling T-shirts and greeting the visitors.

The men are very gracious, frequently standing to shake hands or to encourage someone to come forward who might be a little shy.

A question and answer period provided opportunities to hear a little bit more about what these men are like. About guns Jay Paul replied, “My dad started me. I love guns. I’m a gun fanatic. That’s how I was raised. When I’m home I’ve always got a gun on me,

Swamp 1. Jay Paul and RJ on stage answering questions  270x221 The History Channel’s <em/>Swamp People Houma Nation Stars are Hosted at Julyamsh

Jay Paul and RJ on stage answering questions

I’m out in the woods, shooting, target practicing, I’m doing it all.”

About steel toed boots, Jay Paul explained he always wears them when hunting gators. “If I hadn’t had steel toed boots that (particular) day, the alligator would have taken half my foot off.”

Asked why the fishing lines of others on the show sometimes break and theirs don’t, Jay Paul replied. “We use a light weight nylon braided rope and theirs is nylon.” He added that they also use a different caliber rifle. “Me and my dad are different from all others. That’s Native pride is what it is,” he laughed.

How were they selected for the show?  “They wanted to see if the Houma Nation still lived on the land like they did way back,” Jay Paul explained. “They asked, ‘who do you think is the best on the bayou?’ and everyone said ‘RJ Molinere, that’s the alligator man.’ My dad said he wasn’t filming without me. So that’s how they got me and my dad.”

They’re genuine people and represent the Houma Nation and Indian country very well.

Hurricane Isaac: Houma Nation Braces as Mighty Storm Bears Down

As Isaac morphed from tropical storm to category 1 hurricane, members of the United Houma Nation in six parishes near the Louisiana shoreline hunkered down or evacuated as the tribe braced for a direct hit seven years to the day after Hurricane Katrina.

“Pretty much everyone that’s gonna move has already moved or planning on just hunkering down,” said Principal Chief Thomas Dardar Jr., speaking from his home in Terrebonne Parish, directly in Isaac’s sights. As of Tuesday afternoon, he said, they had not yet seen the effects of the storm, which was scheduled to hit land late Tuesday or early Wednesday.

“Just the outer bands—wind, a little rain,” he told Indian Country Today Media Network. He said about 300 Houma Nation members living right near the Gulf of Mexico had evacuated. The 17,000 members of the United Houma Nation are spread across six parishes, all of which were under hurricane watch on Tuesday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Hurricane Center was predicting storm surges of six to 12 feet in Mississippi and southeastern Louisiana.

Those outer bands were packing a wallop in and of themselves, with 50 mile-per-hour wind gusts, sustainable at 30, Dardar said. As it strengthened, it headed straight for Houma territory. All openings in the levees had been closed up, Dardar said, and sandbags and other infrastructure had been set up to hold back any rising tides. In addition, he said, shelters were open in Terrebonne and other parishes.

He emphasized that once the waters started to rise, anyone who hadn’t moved was stuck. “There’s only one way down and one way up,” Dardar said.

“Last time we had about 300 that lives closer to there that moved,” he said. “So there’s probably about 300 of them who moved up, just due to the nature, the high tide.”

Several things were working in the Houma’s favor, Dardar noted. Lessons absorbed from previous hurricanes, such as Katrina, were being tested this time. “A lot of our homes since hurricane Katrina have been elevated and lifted.”

The tribal radio station was planning to keep broadcasting until the last possible moment, according to the Houma Nation website, taking down its tower when the winds got too strong.

“We’re hoping that it’s not going to be a real powerful storm, at least not right now,” Dardar said. They were hoping for minimal flood damage, and he noted that the elevated houses had yet to be tested by high winds.

“It will be interesting to see the homes that have been lifted up, see how they weather,” he said. As for the homes that are still at ground level, “Flood damage hopefully will be minimal,” he added. “But there’s still some homes that are down, so we’ll have to check with tribal citizens and see how they fared.”

The damage that came with Katrina seven years ago hit after the storm. “It was the tidal surge that came in, because Katrina had already passed through in the night,” Dardar said. As that storm moved into the Mississippi, the wraparound effect caused the tidal surge to come in, destroying coastline homes were destroyed with a combo of wind and water.

“The water went up the Mississippi River and breached the levy, then came back down to the Gulf, and that’s where they received their damage,” he said. “They could tell because the homes were shifted back toward the Gulf.”

Another concern for the Houma is the potential for oil left over from the BP oil spill of 2010 to be churned up and regurgitated, Dardar said. The dispersant that was sprayed had weighed the water-surface oil down and dragged it underwater, and he didn’t know whether high winds could change that.

“This storm hopefully is not one that will kick it up and bring it on shore,” he said. “They capped some of it, they burned some of it… so it’s still there somewhere, it’s below the surface. This storm hopefully won’t churn it up and bring it up and bring it onshore with the tidal surge.”

Such flood damage from another source during Katrina forced the bulldozing of entire areas, with residents not allowed to go back inside and claim their possessions. “They lost everything. That’s one of the things we’re concerned with,” he said, adding that tribal authorities were telling people, “If you leave, take everything you really want, because if it all comes up you may not be able to go back and retrieve it. Make sure you take your pictures also.”

As of Tuesday afternoon there wasn’t much left to do but sit and wait.

“We’re not expecting it to be a Katrina,” he said. “We’re just hoping for the best. Preparing for the worst but praying for the best. There are lots of new levees in place since last storm, and hopefully they’ll do their job. If they do their job, we’ll be fine.”