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2154The Louisiana-Based Creole Culture

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  • multiracialbookclub
    Dec 25, 2006
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      America's Creole Heritage

        Click to view copy of original photograph.  Click to view copy of original photograph.  Click to view copy of original photograph. 
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      Pictures of a few 19th Century
      Creoles-of-Color living in 
      New Orleans , Louisiana

      According to the Creole Heritage Center located
      in Natchitoches , Louisiana at Northwestern State
      University , Creoles are defined as individuals who
      are generally known as
      people of Mixed French,
      African, Spanish, and Native American Ancestry,
      of whom either reside in or have familial ties to Louisiana .


      Creole Is Not Cajun

      -- and Vice-Versa

      The misleading combined terms "Cajun/Creole"
      and "Creole-Cajun" appear so often in print that
       some people may be surprised to learn
      and Creoles are not synonymous names

      Both cultures have co-existed in Louisiana for over
      two centuries, each with distinctive traits and special
      nuances that enrich and complement the other group.
      Although their heritages are different, Cajun
      and Creole people do share certain similarities
      of language, religion, music, and cuisine.

      A major distinction between
      the two groups is ethnic origin.

      Cajun people are descendants of the Acadians
      (the French-Canadian exiles) who emigrated to
      Louisiana mostly during the years 1765 to 1783.

      The heritages of both the Creole and the Cajun Cultures
      are essentially Francophone (French-speaking) and
      greatly influenced by the Roman Catholic church.

      Historically, Creole people practiced the "true French" of
      their European ancestors, while the unwritten dialect of
      the Cajuns was from their French-Canadian background.

      The language of Creole-French in Louisiana
      gradually developed into a distinctive
      patois sometimes called
      Kreyol Lwiziyen.

      The other common denominator among
      Cajuns and Creoles is their religion.

      The devout faith and rituals of Catholicism are strong
      traditions within the two major cultures of Louisiana .

      Universally, the city of New Orleans remains a cornerstone of
      sophisticated Creole tradition while Acadiana (the southwest
      Lousiana region) is gaining recognition as Cajun Country.

      Both Cajuns and Creoles have experienced
      a cultural renaissance in recent years.

      During the 1970's the group known as
      spearheaded ongoing educational programs for
      preservation of the French-Acadian heritage.

      In the next decade, an organization called
      C.R.E.O.L.E., Inc. initiated revival of ancestral
      pride for Louisiana-born

      This group publishes an informative magazine and has
      adopted the colorful 
      Creole Flag which was created to
      symbolize the French, West African, Spanish,
      and Christian influences on Creole culture.

      Designed by Pete Bergeron in 1987 and also
      adopted by
      C.R.E.O.L.E., Inc., a Lafayette based
      African-American heritage preservation group,
      the Flag of Louisiana Creoles represents the
      cultural melting pot that is the Louisiana Creoles.

      The first flag was hand stitched by Bergeron's
      sister, Delores Kay Conque of Carencro , Louisiana .

      By adopting the Creole flag, C.R.E.O.L.E.,
      Inc. upholds its mission statement,
      "to identify, preserve and promote the numerous
      aspects of the Creole culture of southwest Louisiana ."

      Today there are Creole populations in New Orleans ,
      St. James Parish, Isle Brevelle , Cane River ,
      Opelousas , Lafayette and other Louisiana towns.

      The Creole flag celebrates the Mixed Lineage,
      Culture and Religion of these Louisiana Creoles.

      The upper left section, a white fleur de lis on a
      blue field, represents Louisiana 's French heritage.

      On the lower left and upper right sections, West African
      heritage is represented by the Mali Republic National
      tri-color flag (green, yellow and red) and the Senegal
      Republic National flag (green, yellow and red). Spanish
      Colonial heritage is depicted by the Tower of Castille
      (gold tower on a red field) on the lower right section.

      A white cross dividing the four symbols represents
      the Christian faith accepted by the Muslim and
      Islamic from Senegal and Mali in Louisiana .

      Since 1993, an annual Creole Heritage Day has been
      hosted by the Cane River Community of Isle Brevelle,
      Louisiana, during the third weekend of January.

      Headquartered at Natchitoches in the northwestern part of the
      The Louisiana Creole Heritage Center is an excellent
      source of official information about the non-Cajun culture.

      The Creoles-of-Color

      In Louisiana , the Creole name has had several connotations
      throughout history and is now popularly associated
      with "
      black" ancestry --- and/or non-Cajun heritage.

      The state's first Creoles were "native-born White
      Louisianians "whose parents came directly from
      France or Spain beginning in the 17th century.

      White Colonial aristocrats originally used the term
      "Creole" to distinguish their offspring from those
      Whites who were of lower socioeconomic status.

      Later, the name was extended to also include the
      Persons of Mixed-Race – who became known
      as "Creoles of Color" during the 19th century.

      Because intermarriages with other ethnic groups
      were rare among the White Cajun inhabitants, their
      population remained less diverse than the Creoles.

      In simplest terms, a Creole of Color is a generally south
      Louisiana native (or descendent of such) who is also of
      a Mixed-Race Ancestry (consisting of either Black-White,
      Black-Amerindian, Black-White-Amerindian)
      and usually of French-speaking heritage.

      Numerous terms throughout history have been invented
      to describe the members of this ethnic group, including
      'Gen de Couleur Libre' (Free Man / Person of Color);
      Mulatto (1/2 Black-1/2 White); Grif / Griffe
      (1/2 Black-1/2 Amerindian or 1/2 Black – 1/ 2 Mulatto);
      and Quadroon / Quarteron (1/4 Black – 3/4 Non-Black).

      Although a distinct ethnic group, the Creoles of Color exerted
       a profound influence on Cajun culture, and vice versa.

      Creoles-of Color-were by definition Afro-Europeans
      (with the additional presence of Native American
      / Amerindian lineage in some / many cases).

      While many may attain to a socio-political `identity'
      which is often referred to as "
      black" – they, just like
      many of the people who are of the Ethnic group which
      is referred to as `
      African-American' – are not at all a
      mono-racial `Black' (i.e. African) people grouping
      anymore than they are a mono-racial
      `White' (i.e. European) people grouping. 

      In regards to historical experiences, one historical
      difference ---- between the Creoles-of-Color `Cultural'
      group of Louisiana (and other states) and the remaining
      portion of the people who are of the largely (+70%)
      Multi-Racial `Ethnic' group known as `
      ---- is that people who are of the Creoles-of-Color `Cultural'
      group are often found to have been the descendents of
      those people who were Free-Persons-of-Color (FPOC),
      for many generations, rather than descendents of
      those people who were trapped within the `system'
      of chattel-slavery during those same generations.

      The Food & Music of

      the Creoles-of-Color

      Music is a vital part of both the Creole and the Cajun
      cultures wherein the people have customarily
      celebrated life with songs and dancing.

      Cajun-French music is a unique blend of folk and
      bluegrass traditionally performed with fiddle, triangle,
      guitar, and accordion; modern Cajun bands also
      include drums and electrically-amplified instruments.

      The Creole-French musical tradition began as
      "La La"
      dances held in local community halls or private homes.

      Contemporary "
      black"-Creole music is now known as
      Zydeco (zah'dee-koe) and its influences include
      rhythm & blues, soul, plus a little bit of rock-&-roll.

      In addition to using the traditional instruments of
      Cajun musicians, Zydeco ensembles are distinguished
      by the "frottoir" (washboard played with spoons).

      The ever-growing Southwest Louisiana Zydeco
      Music Festival has been celebrated since 1992
      in the Creole community of Plaisance.

      The famous cooking skills of Creoles and
      Cajuns developed in reflection of their
      respective city and country lifestyles.

      The culinary arts of Creole chefs involved classic
      French gourmet recipes enlivened by seasonings
      introduced by the Spanish, Africans, Italians,
      West Indians, and Native Americans.

      Also using local ingredients, the Cajuns
      traditionally prepared less elegant and more
      practical meals often cooked in a single pot.

      Rice is a common item on
      the menu for both groups.

      Great food is available from
      either school of
      Louisiana cuisine