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New Orleans Culture Essay On Spain

The people and culture of New Orleans have made New Orleans, Louisiana, unique among and distinct from other cities in the United States, including other Southern U.S. cities. New Orleans in modern times has been described as being not a Southern city but a Caribbean city.[1][2][3]

In a locale once used by Choctaw, Houmas, and other Indians,[4][5] prominent cultural influences date to the French and Spanishcolonial periods and the introduction of African slaves in the 18th century.


Main article: New Orleans English

See also: New Orleans § Dialect

American English, with significant variations, is the dominant language in New Orleans. Despite the city's French colonial history, French is rarely used in daily life. However, its expressions and pronunciation have influenced various dialects in New Orleans, and it was still in significant use at the start of the 20th century. There are nine French immersion schools in the Greater New Orleans area and French is still spoken among elites in the city. The city has a long tradition of Hispanic immigrants dating back to the 18th century. Louisiana French and Vietnamese are also heard in the city; Louisiana French speakers from southeast Louisiana entered the city during the 1970s–1980s oil boom, and a sizable Vietnamese community established itself in the city in the last third of the 20th century.

The distinctive local accent is unlike either Creole or the stereotypical Southern accent so often misportrayed by film and television actors. It does, like earlier Southern Englishes, feature frequent deletion of post-vocalic "r". There are many theories of the origin of the accent, but it likely results from New Orleans' geographic isolation by water, and the fact that New Orleans was a major port of entry into the United States throughout the 19th century [1]. Many of the immigrant groups who reside in Brooklyn also reside in New Orleans, with the largest groups being Irish, Germans, and Italians (with Sicilians predominating in the last group).

The prestige associated with being from New Orleans by many residents is likely a factor in the linguistic assimilation of the ethnically divergent population. This distinctive accent is dying out generation by generation in the city (but remains very strong in the surrounding parishes). As with many sociolinguistic artifacts, it is usually attested much more strongly by older members of the population. One subtype of the New Orleans accent is sometimes identified as Yat (from "Where y'at). This word is not used as a generalized term for the New Orleans accent, and is generally reserved for the strongest varieties.

New Orleans is usually pronounced by locals as "noo-AW-lyenz", "noo-AW-linz", "noo-OR-linz", or "noo-OR-lyenz". The tendency among people around the world to say "noo-or-LEENZ" stems from the use of that pronunciation by singers and songwriters, who find it easy to rhyme.[citation needed] The pronunciation "NAW-linz" is likewise not generally used nor liked by locals but has been popularized by the tourist trade.[6][7][8]

Local pronunciations:, , , ,
French: la Nouvelle-Orléans[la nuvɛl ɔʁle.ɑ̃] ( listen)

Also notable are lexical items specific to the city, such as lagniappe meaning "a little something extra," makin' groceries for grocery shopping, or neutral ground for a street median.


Main article: Music of New Orleans

See also: New Orleans § Entertainment and performing arts

New Orleans has always been a significant center for music with its intertwined European, Latin American, and African-American cultures. It was the site of the first opera house in the United States.[9] The city engendered jazz with its brass bands.[10][11] Decades later it was home to a distinctive brand of rhythm and blues that contributed greatly to the growth of rock and roll. In addition, the nearby countryside is the home of Creole music, Zydeco music, Jazz, and Delta blues.


See also: New Orleans § Crime and safety, and New Orleans Police Department

New Orleans has consistently experienced a high homicide rate during the previous two to three decades. Its average annual per-capita homicide rate (59 per 100,000) ranks highest of large cities in the country from 1990–2010 based on Bureau Of Justice Statistics from FBI Uniform Crime Reports. In 1994, 421 people were killed (85.8 per 100,000 people), a homicide rate which has not been matched by any major city to date.[12] The homicide rate rose and fell year to year throughout the late 1990s, but the overall trend from 1994 to 1999 was a steady reduction in homicides.

Beginning in 2000, the homicide rate again increased. New Orleans had the highest homicide rate of any major American city in 2000 (42.1 per 100,000 people) 2001 (44.0 per 100,000) 2002 (53.1 per 100,000) 2003 (57.7 per 100,000) 2004 (56.0 per 100,000) In 2005, there were 202 murders after 8 months a rate of 47 per 100,000, which was still a higher rate than any other major city's 12 month rate, but was not official because there was still 1 month left until the end of 3rd quarter crime data was to be released.In 2006,(70 per 100,000) 2007 (81 per 100,000) 2008 (64 per 100,000) 2009 (52 per 100,000) 2010 (51 per 100,000) and 2011 (58 per 100,000) it was more of the same as the previous years with New Orleans posting the highest per capta homicide rate of any major American city, or 12 years in a row annually until 2012,when the rate (53 per 100,000) was the 2nd highest among major U.S. cities. In 2004,2006,2007,2008,2009, and 2011 New Orleans' per capita homicide rate led cities with populations of 100,000 or more residents, which made it the nation's murder capital of the above-mentioned years with annual per capita homicide rates that were at least ten times the U.S. average in each of those years, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics from FBI Uniform Crime Reports, NOLA.com, and criminologist Dr.Peter Scharf {[13]

After Hurricane Katrina (2005), news media attention focused on the reduced violent-crime rate following the exodus of many New Orleanians. That trend began to reverse itself as people returned to the city, although calculating the homicide rate remained difficult when no authoritative source could cite a total population figure.[14]

In 2003, most victims in New Orleans were killed within three months of their last arrest.[15] The homicide rate for the New Orleans metropolitan statistical area, which includes the suburbs, was 24.4 per 100,000 in 2002.[16]

News & entertainment media[edit]

See also: Media of New Orleans and New Orleans § Media

The major newspaper is The Times-Picayune, publishing since 1837. It publishes six days a week and delivers to homes three days a week. The New Orleans Advocate, an edition of The Advocate of Baton Rouge, publishes and delivers to homes in the New Orleans area daily. Alternative weekly publications include The Louisiana Weekly and Gambit Weekly.[17]

Greater New Orleans is well served by television and radio. The market is the 51st largest Designated Market Area (DMA) in the U.S., serving 633,140 homes and 0.559% of the U.S. Major television network affiliates serving the area include WWL 4 (CBS), WGNO 26 (ABC), WDSU 6 (NBC), WVUE 8 (FOX), WNOL 38 (WB), WUPL 54 (UPN), and WPXL 49 (ION). PBS stations include WYES 12 and WLAE 32. WHNO 20 also operates as an independent station in the area, providing mainly religious programming.

Radio stations serving Greater New Orleans include:

  • Jazz: WWNO-FM (88.9), WWOZ-FM (90.7), WTUL-FM (91.5)
  • Classical: WWNO-FM (89.9)
  • Country: WNOE-FM (101.1)
  • Contemporary: KLRZ-FM (100.3), WLMG-FM (101.9), WDVW-FM (92.3)
  • Gospel/Christian: KHEV-FM (104.1), WYLD-AM (940), WBSN-FM (89.1), WLNO-AM (1060), WSHO-FM (800), WOPR-FM (94.9), WVOG-AM (600)
  • Latino: KGLA-AM (1540), WFNO-FM (830)
  • Oldies: WTIX-FM (94.3), WJSH-FM (104.7), WMTI-FM (106.1)
  • Public: WRBH-FM (88.3), WWNO-FM (89.9)
  • Rock: KKND-FM (106.7), WRNO-FM (99.5), WEZB-FM (97.1), WKBU-FM (95.7)
  • Sports: WODT-AM (1280)
  • Talk: WWL-AM (870), WWL-FM (105.3), WSMB-AM (1350), WIST-AM (690)
  • Urban/Urban Contemporary: KMEZ-FM (102.9),KNOU-FM (104.5), WQUE-FM (93.3), WYLD-FM (98.5)

Museums and other attractions[edit]

See also: New Orleans § Tourism

Greater New Orleans has many visitor attractions, including Uptown's St. Charles Avenue, home of Tulane University, Loyola University, many stately 19th-century mansions, and the St. Charles Streetcar Line.

The French Quarter (known locally as "the Quarter"), which dates from the French and Spanish eras, is probably the main tourist destination. The neighborhood contains many hotels, restaurants, and bars, most notably around Bourbon Street. Other attractions in the quarter include Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, the French Market (including the Café du Monde, famous for café au lait and beignets), and Preservation Hall.

Also located near the French Quarter is the old New Orleans Mint, formerly a branch of the United States Mint (and the only mint of the Confederacy), which now operates as a museum. The National WWII Museum is relatively new, having opened in 2000 as the National D-Day Museum. The Natchez is an authentic steamboat with a calliope, which cruises the Mississippi River twice daily.

There are several locations of the Louisiana State Museum in the city, as well as the National Park Service's Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, a multi-site development. The city has a number of additional historical museums and house museums, such as the Historic New Orleans Collection, the Hermann-Grima House, Gallier House, a pharmacy museum, and the nation's second-largest (after Richmond, Virginia) Confederate museum, Confederate Memorial Hall.

Art museums in the city include the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in City Park and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Audubon Park and the Audubon Zoo are also located in the city of New Orleans, as is the Aquarium of the Americas. New Orleans is noted for its historic cemeteries. Two of the oldest and largest cemeteries are Saint Louis Cemetery and Metairie Cemetery.

Significant gardens include Longue Vue House and Gardens and the New Orleans Botanical Garden.

Annual cultural events and fairs[edit]

See also: New Orleans Mardi Gras

Greater New Orleans is home to numerous annual celebrations, including Mardi Gras, New Year's Eve celebrations, and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. New Orleans' most famous celebration is its Carnival Season. The Carnival season is often known (especially by out-of-towners) by the name of the last and biggest day, Mardi Gras (literally, "Fat Tuesday"), held just before the beginning of the Catholic liturgical season of Lent. Mardi Gras celebrations include parades and floats; participants toss strings of cheap colorful beads and doubloons to the crowds. The Mardi Gras season is kicked off with the only parade allowed through the French Quarter (Vieux Carré, translated Old Square), a walking parade aptly named Krewe du Vieux.

The largest of the city's many musical festivals is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Commonly referred to simply as, "Jazz Fest", it is one of the largest music festivals in the nation, and features crowds coming from all over the world to experience music, food, arts, and crafts. Despite the name, it features not only jazz but a large variety of music, including both native Louisiana music and nationally-known popular music artists.

Southern Decadence is a New Orleans-style celebration of the gay community. It is a six-day event that attracts over 160,000 locals and visitors. The annual event began in 1972 to empower the gay community of South Louisiana and has grown to be one of the largest gay events in the nation.[18]

Sports and recreation[edit]

Main article: Sports in New Orleans

The city also hosts two college footballbowl games annually: the New Orleans Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. The city also holds the Bayou Classic, which is an annual college football game between Grambling State University and Southern University. Nine Super Bowls have been contested in New Orleans.

Historically, many teams have been formerly located in the city, including the New Orleans Pelicans baseball team (1887–1959), the New Orleans Breakers of the United States Football League, the New Orleans Night of the Arena Football League (1991–1992), and the New Orleans Brassice hockey team (1997–2003). Former basketball teams were the New Orleans Buccaneers (c. 1967–1970), and the New Orleans Jazz (1974–1980) which became the Utah Jazz.

New Orleans is also home to Southern Yacht Club, located at West End on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Established in 1849, it is the second oldest yacht club in the United States. The building was severely damaged, first by storm surge and then by fire, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Replicas of New Orleans[edit]

New Orleans Square, a replica of the French Quarter, was built in Disneyland in 1966, with buildings and landscaping meant to evoke 19th-century New Orleans. When it opened, Walt Disney had then-New Orleans mayorVictor H. Schiro made honorary mayor of New Orleans Square. Schiro, in turn, made Disney an honorary citizen of the real New Orleans.[19]

Movie sets have been built in different parts of the world purporting to resemble the French Quarter or other parts of New Orleans.[citation needed]

Food in New Orleans[edit]

Main article: Cuisine of New Orleans

New Orleans is world-famous for its food. The indigenous cuisine is distinctive and influential. From centuries of amalgamation of local Creole, haute Creole, Cajun, and New Orleans French cuisines, New Orleans food has developed. Local ingredients combined with French, Spanish, Italian, African, Native American, and a hint of Cuban food traditions combine to produce a truly unique and easily recognizable Louisiana flavor.

Unique specialties include beignets, square-shaped fried pastries that could be called "French doughnuts" (served with coffee and chicory, known as café au lait); po' boy and Italian muffuletta sandwiches; Gulf oysters on the half-shell, boiled crawfish, and other seafood; étouffée, jambalaya, gumbo, and other Creole dishes; and the Monday favorite of red beans and rice (Louis Armstrong often signed his letters, "Red beans and ricely yours"). New Orleans residents enjoy some of the best restaurants in the United States that cater specifically to locals, and visitors are encouraged to try the local establishments recommended by their hosts.


  1. ^New Orleans, "now under the flag of the United States, is still very much a Caribbean city...." "The Pearl of the Antilles and the Crescent City: Historic Maps of the Caribbean in the Latin American Library Map Collections". Latin American Library, Tulane University. Archived from the original on 2005-12-22. Retrieved 2006-05-27. 
  2. ^New Orleans is described as "a Caribbean city, an exuberant, semi-tropical city, perhaps the most hedonistic city in the United States." R.W. Apple, Jr. "Apple's America"(quoted on ePodunk.com). Retrieved 2006-05-27. 
  3. ^New Orleans "is often called the northernmost Big Easy City ." Over the years, New Orleans has had a dominant influence on American and global culture Kemp, John R. (1997-11-30). "When the painter met the Creoles". Boston Globe. p. G3. Retrieved 2006-05-27. 
  4. ^"Indian Women". French Creoles. Retrieved 2006-05-30. 
  5. ^King, Grace (1926). "Founding of New Orleans". New Orleans: The Place and the People. New York: The Macmillan Company. Retrieved 2006-05-30. 
  6. ^"Speaking like a local". Fodor's: New Orleans. Retrieved 2006-05-30. 
  7. ^"Elegy for New Orleans". Godspy. Retrieved 2006-05-30. 
  8. ^"Do you know what it means to pronounce New Orleans?"(blog). Semantic Compositions. Retrieved 2006-05-30. 
  9. ^"Music Student Opportunities". Loyola University New Orleans, College of Music. Retrieved 2006-05-30. 
  10. ^"New Orleans: The Birthplace of Jazz"(primarily excerpted from Jazz: A History of America's Music). PBS – JAZZ A Film By Ken Burns. Retrieved 2006-05-17. 
  11. ^"America Savors Its Music During Jazz Appreciation Month". U.S. Dept. of State – USINFO. Archived from the original on 2006-05-17. Retrieved 2006-05-17. 
  12. ^"New Orleans murder rate on the rise again". MSNBC. 2005-08-18. Retrieved 2006-05-17. 
  13. ^New Orleans Crime Statistics (LA) - CityRating.com
  14. ^Nossiter, Adam (2006-03-30). "As Life Returns to New Orleans, So Does Crime". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  15. ^http://www.nola.com/speced/cycleofdeath/pdf/02080405.pdf
  16. ^FBI - Crime in the US, 2002 - Crime Index Offenses Reported
  17. ^Gambit Weekly
  18. ^http://www.southerndecadence.net/southern-decadence.htm
  19. ^Simpson, Wade (September 3, 2008). "Sounds Like Walt". MousePlanet. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
Bird's-eye view of New Orleans in 1862
Bourbon Street, New Orleans, in 2003, looking towards Canal Street.
Mounted Krewe Officers in the Thoth Parade during Mardi Gras.


España y La Louisiana

By H. F. "Pete" Gregory


Spain acquired Louisiana by means of a secret treaty with France at the end of the seven-year conflict between France and England. At that time France relinquished her North American colonies and England received all the lands east of the Mississippi River, except for the Isle of Orleans. The lands of the western Mississippi Valley were then given to Spain. Spain controlled the Louisiana colony from 1763 until it was returned to France in 1800.

In this vast territory with few European people, Spain found new challenges. Lower Louisiana—bordering the English on the east, populated by French citizens and their Indian and African slaves, and the Native American tribes aboriginal to the region—was not easily ruled. The first Spanish attempts to take control were rejected, and military rule followed. Eventually the Spanish authorities relented and left local control in the hands of French administrators, many of whom were born in the colony. Simultaneously, Spain sent the Valenciano, Francisco Bouligny, to Louisiana with new plans for the region. Spanish development of the colony was based not on trade with Native Americans, but on establishing resident populations and local development. Plantations and cattle farms began to appear, even in the back country.

Spanish culture began to fuse with French and Native American cultures, among others. To augment the region's small population, new immigrants were invited and given land grants and military garrisons to protect them. These new immigrants added multi-cultural elements as Native Americans, Canary Islanders, Spaniards, Acadians, Haitians, and Irish Catholic populations moved onto Spanish territories. Each of these groups added to a mixture of cultural items, many of which have persisted to this time, like the French, Spanish, and Native American languages that remain in Louisiana today.

Folks in the rural portions of the modern state retain and guard their languages, arts, and crafts. The French-speaking Acadians displaced by the English to the fledgling colony, the Haitians displaced by internal strife, the Canary Islanders (Isleños) brought in from their islands to strengthen Spanish culture, and the tribes of Native Americans who had been friends and allies of the French and the Spaniards east of the Mississippi River, all added their own cultural elements to the mix. Influences from West Africa, by way of slave and free black populations and already present by the 1760s, came into play as well. Even small communities of Irish Catholics with anti-British sympathies were welcomed. As life under Spanish administration changed some aspects of life, some remained the same. Spain encouraged farming, ranching and plantations. Fishermen and farmers offered their produce. A grand market developed in New Orleans which, in Spanish fashion, helped keep traditions alive.

By the 19th century, some 40 communities developed across lower Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, where these various culture groups mixed and mingled to form a blend still referred to by the Spanish term Criollo, or Creole in French. Creole refers to things, even people, produced by the New World experience. Racial mixture—White, Black, Indian and others—accompanied Spanish colonies, and a Creole population grew up around each of the older forts or garrisons.

Each group that immigrated under Spanish administration of Louisiana left communities, language enclaves, material culture and racial elements. Closer than much of North America to Spanish culture and trade, modern Louisiana continues to be a vibrant, exciting place.

Louisiana's major cities tended to develop on the locations of former Spanish administrative centers, including New Orleans and Natchitoches—virtually the only population centers prior to Spanish administration. Opelousas, St. Martinville, Alexandria, Marksville, Franklin, Vidalia, and Monroe are all cities rooted in the former Spanish posts. The government, religion, and foodways clearly reflect Spanish elements.

Recently, an exhibit was created to introduce the people of Spain to the complexities of Louisiana using a small collection of folk crafts and craftspeople whose ancestors settled in Louisiana under the colonial administration of Spain. The exhibition which went to Spain was entitled "Louisiana, Bienvenidos a Todos."

These are some of groups represented in the exhibition:


The Apalachee tribe, Muskogean speakers from Florida, moved from Mobile Bay in 1763 to the Red River in Spanish colonial Louisiana. Converted to Catholicism early in the French colonial era by Spanish missionaries in Florida, the Apalachee petitioned for a church and a priest as they fled the English into Spanish territory. Working as farmers, guides, and laborers in the colonial period, the tribe was displaced with the expansion of plantations in the American period (1830s). They sought refuge in the poorer pine forests and swamps a few miles west of the land grant given to them by Spain. Their descendants, intermarried with French and Spanish families and remain there today. Centered around their church and cemetery, the Apalachee are scattered in kin groups across the wooded countryside. Recognized as a sovereign nation by Spain, the tribe and its pleas for protection were ignored by the American government in the 19th century, and the group continues to struggle in its efforts to maintain identity today. Their language had been replaced by English and French, but some traditional arts and crafts have been maintained and "new" pan-tribal artistic elements are now shared with their Native American neighbors. The Apalachee continue to work as farmers and ranchers and in the timber industry, while still maintaining tribal organization and oral traditions.


Numbers of small bands of Choctaw Indians entered central Louisiana during Spanish colonial times. Separated from their larger tribe in Mississippi, these groups became autonomous and dealt independently with the Spanish government. North and west of the Spanish colonial outposts at El Rapids (Rapides) and at Natchitoches, these groups scattered out across the country towards Spanish Texas. The Clifton Choctaw community in Rapides Parish traces its roots back to these early bands of hunters and traders. Today, only vestiges of their native language, kinship, arts and crafts, and tribal organization serve to link them to their past. Still they maintain their autonomy as a Native American community, separate from other Choctaw communities, much as their ancestors did in Spanish colonial days. They are recognized as an American Indian community only by the state of Louisiana and themselves. Intermarried with Creoles and Anglo-Americans, the Clifton Choctaw are a unique blend of cultures. They remain in place as lumbermen, farmers, and herders. Only recently have they been reached by paved roads and integrated public schools. Cultural change comes slowly in such communities.

Clifton Choctaw Crafts


The Houma are a tribal group of Native Americans that moved to the bayous and marshes of southern Louisiana from Mississippi in the early Spanish colonial period. Along with members of other tribes, the Houma organized communities in the hostile environments along the Gulf of Mexico. They became fishermen and trappers, and on a more limited basis, farmers, growing maize, beans, and squash. Recognized as a sovereign tribe by Spain, they struggle to re-establish that equality with the United States. Recognized by the state of Louisiana, the Houma tribe lacks acknowledgment as an Indian tribal government by the Federal government. The marshes and bayous of lower Louisiana offered the Houma isolation and protection from their enemies, and also opened new vistas for ecological adaptation. Today, their arts and crafts traditions—based on the use of palmetto, cypress, and other local vegetation and resources—are unique among Native American tribes. French language borrowed from their Acadian neighbors and kinsmen remains the first language for most of the Houma, making them one of the strongest Francophone communities in Louisiana. Indirectly, the survival of French among the Houma is attributable to Spanish tolerance for cultural diversity in colonial Louisiana.

Houma Crafts


The Acadians, often called Cajuns, came to Louisiana after the French and Indian War. Two major migrations occurred after the English colonial powers expelled them from their communities in eastern Canada. After some peregrinations they found solace in Spanish Louisiana where there was respect for their Latin culture, especially language and religion. The earliest Acadians settled along the west bank of the Mississippi north of New Orleans where they began to farm. Later, they and their kinsmen expanded to the prairies of Southwestern Louisiana. In spite of intense pressure to Anglicize their culture, the Acadians have remained Roman Catholic and still speak French among themselves. In the Mississippi floodplain, they became fishermen and small farmers, and in the prairies of southwestern Louisiana, they established ranches and borrowed elements of the Spanish cattle and horse traditions. Today these people maintain traditional arts, crafts, and music. However, they have also produced governors, priests, and industrialists among the famous leaders of Louisiana.

Acadian Brown Cotton Weaving


The Spanish colonial governor, Bernardo de Galvez, saw the need for Spanish-speaking populations in the Louisiana colony, so he brought people from his native Canary Islands to the vicinity of New Orleans and into lower Louisiana. Scattered along the lower Mississippi River, the Canary Islanders, called Isleños today, were settled mainly on the higher land between the river and the coastal marsh at Delacroix Island, Ycloskey, and Reggio, where they remain. In these St. Bernard Parish communities, and along Bayou Lafourche near Thibodeaux, Louisiana, Spanish language has survived among the Canary Islands descendents. Similarly, they have maintained arts, food ways, and musical traditions that trace directly back to their Spanish roots. Borrowing a few French loan words, Spanish has remained almost pristine since colonial days. Commercial fishermen, trappers and small farmers, the Isleños remain much as they have since colonial times. Today, the communities are trying to revitalize and preserve their Hispanic heritage. With the help of the U.S. Department of Interior and Jean Lafitte National Park, the Isleños have developed a museum and cultural center—viable efforts to maintain their culture.

Isleno Crafts

Koasati (also called Coushatta)

The Koasati, originally came from Alabama and migrated west, out of English territory, to Louisiana in the Spanish period. The Koasati speak a Muskogean language closely related to Creek and were neighbors to the Choctaw on the north and west. They settled on the Isle of Orleans, then moved to Red River. A large village developed north of modern Shreveport, Louisiana. The tribe eventually migrated to Spanish Texas and then, in the 1830s, to southwestern Louisiana. Today their primary community is in Allen Parish near the town of Elton, Louisiana. They retain their pre-European language, their traditional matrilineal clan kinship system, and many of their traditional arts. About 800 members are enrolled in the tribe today. They are recognized as a sovereign nation by the United States government. Tribal members farm, raise cattle, work in the petroleum industry, and in their native-owed casino. The tribe maintains a world class hotel and casino complex, as well as a crafts outlet, a community center, a court system, and a police department. Some families have Spanish surnames today, like their Chief, Lovelin Poncho. Others retain their Indian names, like Abbey, or have French surnames: Sylestine and Langley. The Koasati have kept their culture intact and could not have done so without Spanish colonial policies that allowed them to keep their tribe together. They are famous for their split cane and pine needle basketry and for their mythological stories—part of their heritage they have maintained.

Koasati (Coushatta) Crafts

Los Adaesaños

In 1719, Franciscan missionaries came from Mexico and Texas to attempt conversion of Native Americans. As the French moved towards Texas, Spanish missions were established to encourage trade between the tribes, the Spaniards, and the French. Fearful of French expansionism, Spanish authorities established a full garrison, a royal presidio, Nuestra Señora del Pilar de los Adaes, to guard the Louisiana Texas frontier (1721 – 1773). Closed after Louisiana became a Spanish territory, Adaesaño families were ordered back to Texas. Gradually they managed to return to their patria chica in northwestern Louisiana. Centered today in east Texas (Nacogdoches, Chireno, Moral) and in Sabine and Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana (Zwolle, Ebarb, and Spanish Lake) communities, their descendents represent one of the oldest Hispanic or Indo-Hispanic populations in North America.

The Creoles

The word, Creole, from the Spanish, Criollo, meaning born in the New World, has multiple meanings in Louisiana. Americans considered it to suggest mixed-race, mixed-culture folks. Race conscious French and Spanish whites used the term exclusively for themselves. Free blacks, Indians and other mixed-race people were classified as gens de couleur libre. However, these people preferred the term, Creole, and have made it their own. Today, it refers to a multi-racial and multi-cultural mixture. Some Creoles self-identify as black, others white, and some Native American, but all recognize the appellation, Creole. The Spanish gave grants to freed slaves, many of whom bought their children and relatives out of slavery. Many had arranged legal liaisons with whites and their offspring were freed, all permissible in the Spanish colony, a practice unique in the southern United States. Likely the proudest contributions to Louisiana made by Spain were the plantations and other accomplishments of the Creoles. The process of sugar refinement, the arts and letters, and the ecclesiastical development of the church all carry proud Creole family names. There are about 40 Creole communities scattered across Louisiana, each–such as the Isle Brevelle community in Natchitoches Parish–typically centered around a Roman Catholic church and cemetery.

Creole Crafts

This article was originally published in the 2002 Louisiana Folklife Festival booklet. Dr. H. F. Pete Gregory is professor of anthropology at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. He wrote this piece in connection with an exhibition on Spanish influence in Louisiana, "Louisiana, Bienvenidos a Todos."

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