Cleaning Up History - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Cleaning Up History

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AVOYELLES PARISH, La. - There's a lot of history buried in Cenla--but what happens when it's forgotten? One man in Avoyelles Parish is trying to uncover, and clean up, some of that history.

When David Cook returned to a place he fondly remembers after nearly thirty years, he didn't like what he found.

David Cook: "When we came up on it, it was just horrible. Just didn't seem right leaving it like this. I felt that I had to do something about it."

So Cook decided to clean up this abandoned graveyard, deep in private woods in Avoyelles Parish. Cook says he's found headstones dating back to the early 1900's, and even three war veterans' graves.

Cook: "We got a couple of soldiers here, just forgotten, it's not a good thing. Even for families and soldiers, especially the sacrifice they made."

But he says a majority of the tombstones are unmarked.

Cook: "We don't know their names, but at least they're going to have a cross put up when I'm done."

And right next to the graveyard is a Native American burial mound, thought to be even older than the graveyard itself.

A local tribesman says his research shows it belongs to the Avoyel Indians.

Mickey Baptiste, Avoyel Tribe: And it's very important to our tribe to maintain the mound now that we've discovered it."

Baptiste says he's grateful to David Cook for discovering the historical place.

Baptiste: "Would it have not been for him, we would not have found the mound. But he's the one that came back here, being nosy."

Cook says he has big plans for the site. Cleaning up the brush, fixing and replacing grave markers where he can, and eventually erecting both the American flag and the Avoyel tribal flag.

Cook: "At the same time, it's out of respect, and I feel obligated."

And he won't stop until the job is done.

Cook: "But it's good and quiet back here. I like it. I don't mind getting away from the public and my shop, so it's okay."

David Cook is being inducted as an honorary member of the Avoyel tribe next month.

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