David Holthouse

David Holthouse is senior editor of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report.

Recent Articles

The Houma Nation Digs Out

In the wake of Gustav and Ike, a resilient traditional people recovers from both nature's assaults and bad policy.

Last Sept. 1, as Hurricane Gustav blasted the coastal Louisiana homeland of the United Houma Nation, tribal chief Brenda Dardar Robichaux hunkered down with friends and family members around a television with foil-wrapped bunny ears. They watched newscasters report with great relief that New Orleans had "dodged a bullet." Meanwhile, the winds and rains of Gustav crushed mobile homes, felled trees, sheared away roofs, flooded roads, and washed elevated wooden houses from their pilings across the isolated swamplands occupied by the 17,000 Houma (pronounced HOE-muh) roughly 50 miles southwest of New Orleans. Twelve days later, while the Houma were still assessing the damage, Hurricane Ike flooded the region. Structures that Gustav spared were fouled with mud and mold. It was the second time in three years that a one-two combination of natural disasters rocked the Houma Nation. In August and September of 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wreaked similar devastation on the Houma's bayou...