Return to Yakni Chitto explores the complex interconnectedness of environment, economics, culture, climate and change in the Mississippi River Deltas’ indigenous Houma Nation. Telling an autobiographical story of ancestral migration and community resilience in the face of environmental and social injustice, this installation, curated by Michel Varisco, 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 the ways of life preserved by the Houma diaspora throughout the Gulf South.
The exhibit 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.