Creole History and Culture

Creole women sit around a table making tamales.
Parishioners prepare meat pies and tamales for the annual St. Augustine Catholic Church Fair.

Courtesy of St. Augustine Historical Society

What does it mean to be Creole?

As French, Spanish, African, and Native American cultures interacted and exchanged in Louisiana, it led to the development of a distinctive culture: Creole. The term Creole, in colonial Louisiana, indicated New World products derived from Old World stock, and showed itself in every part of life as these different people and cultures adapted to each other and the land.

Historically, Creole referred to people born in Louisiana during the colonial period, who spoke French, Spanish and/or creole languages, and practiced the Roman Catholic faith regardless of their ethnicity. Today, as in the past, Creole goes beyond racial boundaries. It connects people to their colonial roots, be they descendants of European colonists, enslaved or free Africans, or those of mixed heritage. Many define Creole through foodways, music, folklore, family traditions, architecture, the Catholic faith, and genealogy. While the meaning of Creole has changed over time, Cane River remains a home to this unique and complex culture.

We invite you to take a cultural journey and immerse yourself in the rich, diverse heritage and vibrant living traditions of Cane River. In 1994, U.S. Congress acknowledged the unique qualities of this region by creating Cane River National Heritage Area and Cane River Creole National Historical Park, consisting of Oakland and Magnolia Plantations. Featuring cultural landscapes and historic buildings, Oakland Plantation and Magnolia Plantation are two of the most intact Creole plantations in the United States.

Last updated: December 23, 2023

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PO Box 925
Natchitoches, LA 71458


318-352-0383 x316

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