Cane River Creole National Historical Park

Cane River Creole National Historical Park

In 18th century Louisiana, Creole referred to locally born Spaniards, French and enslaved people. After the Louisiana Purchase, Creole was used to differentiate between those native to Louisiana and those who were Anglo-American. Consequently, French-speaking white residents of Louisiana were also considered Creole. Today, the term Creole commonly refers to a mixture of predominantly French, African and Spanish traits with traces of American Indian culture. It is the intense pride in and attachment to one's ancestry and culture that is key to understanding what it means to be Creole. This manifests itself in architecture, religious practices, foodways, and language. The French Prud'homme family began farming the land at Oakland in 1785. Magnolia traces its mid-18th century origin to the French LeComte family, and also to the German Hertzog family. The skills and strengths of enslaved African-Americans are evident in the buildings they constructed on both Oakland and Magnolia Plantations. Descendents of many enslaved residents remained on the land as tenant farmers and sharecroppers. The vibrant African American communities in the Natchitoches region today trace two hundred years of cultural history to this fertile land surrounding the Cane River.