Janie grew up in the Houma Indian community of Bayou DuLarge, LA and still lives there today. Her parents were the late John and Mary Verret both traditional Houma Indian artists. Janie is a well known Houma artist, basket weaver, cultural preservationist. Janie creates beautiful jewelry and artwork using the scales of the Alligator Garfish. Janie is responsible for reintroducing the Houma Half-Hitch Palmetto basket weaving technique to her tribe, the United Houma Nation. She learned this method from the late Richard Conn, former Chief Curator of Native Arts, at the Denver Museum of Art. The Houma tribe is the only tribe in the country that practices this technique that was lost in the early 1940’s. In keeping with traditions she has passed on this basketry knowledge to her three daughters and granddaughters and currently teaches others in her tribal community. Janie also lectures on how the Houmas used herbal medicine. Janie comes from a long line of traditional healers or medicine women/men from both sides of her family. Janie is a tribal and community advocate. Janie is a Master Artist of Louisiana and has received the United Houma Nation Cultural Preservation award and the Louisiana Division of the Arts Folk Life Fellowship award (in 2011). In 2019, Janie was one of five Louisiana tradition bearers honored during Louisiana Folklife Month. Janie presents her work at various venues including the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and has presented at the Living Earth Festival in Washington, DC at the Mall of American Indian Museum. She was one of two artist selected from Louisiana. The Alligator Garfish jewelry and art work has taken Janie and her daughther, Ann, twice to France to represent Louisiana and the United Houma Nation. Janie is also known for her cooking talents and has appeared on Chef John Folse’s GATHERING OF THE SEVEN NATIONS and his cooking shows on the PBS stations and also with Loretta Olden’s Seasoned with Spirit cooking show. Janie is also included in several essays on the Folklife in Louisiana website (www.louisianafolklife.org). She was also featured in Native Peoples’ magazine in 1997.
Janie served on the United Houma Nation Tribal Council for eight (8) years representing the Lower Dulac, LA and lower Bayou Dularge, LA communities. Janie is also fluent in the Houma French language of her tribe and serves on the CODOFIL board as the United Houma Nation representative being elected in 2016 by the tribal council.
Janie worked at the Native American Museum “Cannes Brulee’s in Kenner, Louisiana as curator. Janie also worked for the United Houma Nation and the United Houma Nation Vocational Rehabilitation program before serving on the tribal council.
Janie has been married to William Luster for 47 years and together they have five children…Angela, Adilia, Ann, William “Louie” and Zebadiah “Zeb” Luster.