I really enjoy informing people about Gumbo File`. I explain what it is made from and who started this process. The Choctaw Indians were the first ones to do this. In the 1700 and 1800 the French and Spanish settlers came to Louisiana and they were shown the original way it was done. I am of true Louisiana Creole heritage. My fathers line was African, French and Mayan Indian from Guatemala. My mothers line was French, African, Spanish, German and Jamaican. This unique family learned to make Gumbo file` from the Native Indian and this has been handed down to me. I exhibit at Festivals, Workshops and Farmers Markets.
With much pride in Lionel voice, he he talks about his Great Uncle, Joseph Willie Richard who originally founded Uncle Bill’s Creole Filé, in 1904. Uncle Willie was born, blind, in 1894. As a young child he worked cutting sugarcane on the Alma Plantation in Lakeland, La. Waiting to marry until he could support a family, he developed his skills for making Creole filé as well as brooms and mops. At the age of thirty-four, he finally felt comfortable enough to begin his own family. He raised four children, three of which, Lionel proudly told me, later went on to college and are teachers on the university level.