Grand Bois, Louisiana
United Houma Nation
RJ, along with his son Jay Paul, is featured in the History Channel’s Swamp People, a reality series about alligator hunting.
“My kids when they were growing up, if they had something on their mind, and it was bothering them, they couldn’t sleep at night, they was having bad dreams and stuff like that. The next morning, they would come find me and they will tell me ‘dad could you come smudge my room?’ I’m like ‘what’s up brother or sister?’ whatever. I call them my kids, brother and sister. Anyway, I said no problem. I would, but I wouldn’t only smudge their room. I would do the whole house you know, walk around and that’s where this comes into place, my eagle feathers. And as I’m burning my Sage, I’m also praying to my whole house especially in the bedroom that my son or my daughter sleeping in, and it just makes you feel good when you’re your son or your daughter will come back to you and say ‘thanks dad.’”
“Growing up as a kid, I mean, I’m talking about as far as I can remember. You know, my people always lived off the land. And, and you know, when you’re growing up as a kid, your growing up and doing things with your grandparents and your parents and stuff like that. You don’t realize that you’re there and you just living a normal life and you think everything is normal, you know, so, not realizing that I was learning the way the Houma. In other words, the way that Native Americans from the Houma Tribe that I’m from. I didn’t even know that I was even a Native American actually.
“I don’t want to make this sound crazy, but we live like in a disputed area. And it was like Lafourche Parish on one side and Terrebonne Parish on the other side. So, you either had a choice to go five minutes to school, or you had to go 10-12 miles to school. So that was kind of hard, you know, because you didn’t have a choice.
“As I got older, I just started living off the land in other words, trapping, hunting for our food, shrimping, fishing alligators, on and on and on everything that my people did, I did, you know, and that was just part of life, the way we live, you know, and it was normal. It was good. It was a good life, you know. But, again, today, I regret my education, I wish I would have had to get the chance to get my education.”