The six sites of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve represent a treasure trove of south Louisiana's historical and cultural riches. People from nearly every country, ethnic group, language, and religion have come to the lower Mississippi River delta and left traces of their passing. In south Louisiana, the places where history happened are around every corner and down every bayou. The well-worn skills and traditions of previous generations are revered at the same time they're adapted for life in a new century. In 1966, Louisiana authorized a state park to be established at the present site of the Barataria Preserve. The park was named after Lafitte because of his smuggling operations in the area. In 1978, Congress created Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, combining Chalmette National Historical Park (established in 1938) with the Louisiana state park and authorizing a visitor center in the French Quarter. The park was given the mission of preserving the natural and cultural resources of Louisiana's Mississippi River delta region. Lafitte was associated with the three original sites of the park: he roamed the streets of New Orleans' French Quarter, navigated the swamps of the Barataria Preserve, and helped the Americans win the Battle of New Orleans at Chalmette Battlefield. At Chalmette, two volunteer battalions of free men of color fought in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. These men were the first black American troops to receive pay, equipment, pensions, and bounty land grants equal to that of their white counterparts. Later, the Acadian Cultural Center in Lafayette, the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center in Eunice, and the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Center in Thibodaux were added to the park, and stories connect Lafitte with those areas, too.
Last updated: March 31, 2012