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Encyclopedia > Louisiana Creole people
Louisiana Creoles
Total population


Regions with significant populations
Louisiana, East Texas[1], Los Angeles County, California, coastal Mississippi, Chicago, Illinois, coastal Alabama, small numbers in Veracruz (Mexico)[2], Haiti, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and France
English, Louisiana Creole French
Predominantly Roman Catholic
Related ethnic groups
Various Native American groups
This article is about an ethnic culture in Louisiana, USA. For uses of the term "Creole" in other countries and cultures, see Creole (disambiguation).

Louisiana Creole (also called French Créole) refers to people of various racial descent descended from the Colonial French and Spanish settlers of Colonial French Louisiana, before it became part of the United States in 1803 with the Louisiana Purchase, with claim to the culture and Creole cuisine. The common accepted defintion is a mixture of (mainly) French, Spanish, African, and Native-American heritage however some may not be all of these. It should be noted however that there are also white French Creoles. Before the Civil war the term Creole was applied to most 18th century families in southern Louisiana who had French, Spanish, or African ancestry. Cajuns were always excluded from this distinction, due to their lack of social status in old Louisiana and mostly white Acadian background. This article is about the U.S. State. ... Red counties show the core of East Texas; pink and red counties may or may not be included in East Texas, and thus their inclusion varies from source to source. ... Map of California showing Los Angeles County. ... This article is about the U.S. state. ... This article is about the U.S. state. ... For other uses, see Chicago (disambiguation). ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ... Location within Mexico Country Capital Municipalities 212 Largest City Veracruz Government  - Governor Fidel Herrera Beltrán (PRI)  - Federal Deputies PRI: 6 PAN: 11 PRD: 2 Convergencia: 2  - Federal Senators PRD: 1 PAN: 1 Convergencia: 1 Area Ranked 11th  - Total 71,699 km² (27,683. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Louisiana Creole (Créole Louisiane and Kourí-Viní, as it is known in and near St. ... The Roman Catholic Church, most often spoken of simply as the Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with over one billion members. ... The Cajuns are an ethnic group mainly living in Louisiana, consisting of the descendants of Acadian exiles and peoples of other ethnicities with whom the Acadians eventually intermarried on the semitropical frontier. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... This article is about the people indigenous to the United States. ... Motto LUnion Fait La Force(French) Unity is Strength Anthem La Dessalinienne Capital (and largest city) Port-au-Prince Official languages French, Haitian Creole Government Republic  -  President René Préval  -  Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis Formation  -  as Saint-Domingue 1697   -  Independence from France January 1, 1804  Area  -  Total 27... The word Creole is an adaptation of the Castillian-Spanish word criollo, which came into English from French between 1595 and 1605. ... The Louisiana Purchase (French: Vente de la Louisiane) was the acquisition by the United States of America of 828,000 square miles (2,140,000 km²) of French territory (Louisiana) in 1803. ... World map showing location of Africa A satellite composite image of Africa Africa is the worlds second_largest continent in both area and population, after Asia. ... A Sioux in traditional dress including war bonnet, about 1908 Native Americans â€“ also Indians, American Indians, First Nations, First Peoples, Indigenous Peoples of America, Aboriginal Peoples, Aboriginal Americans, Amerindians, Amerind, Native Canadians (or of other nations) â€“ are those peoples indigenous to the Americas, living there prior to European colonization. ... For the languages, see Creole language The term Creole is used with different meanings in different contexts, which can generate confusion. ... The Acadians (French: Acadiens) are the descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who settled in Acadia (located in the Canadian Maritime provinces — Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island — and some of the American state of Maine). ...



During Louisiana's first French government, the French borrowed a term the Spanish and Portuguese used in their colonies to refer to native-born products and people of the colony. The Spanish referred to this term as criollo and the Portuguese, crioulo. Ultimately, the colonial term derived from the Latin 'creare', meaning to rear or create (Brasseaux).

Originally, inhabitants of New World Spanish colonies were distinguished by whether or not they had migrated to the colony (either voluntarily or involuntarily), or if they had been brought up or reared in the colony. The Spanish term used to describe the latter group was criado, which later evolved into criollo. Most modern Creoles, both White and Black, have familial ties to Louisiana. Many other ethnicities have contributed to this culture including, but not limited to the Irish, Italian, or German.


Creole largely remained an expression of parochial and colonial government use through both the French and Spanish régimes, a period in which Europeans of French and Spanish biological backgrounds, born in the New World, as opposed to Europe, were referred to as Créole (Logsdon). Simultaneously, the people of the colony forged a new local identity, however it is clear that everyone referred to themselves as French Creole. Parisian French was the language of early New Orleans and later it evolved to contain local phrases and slangs. The White French Creoles spoke Creole French that was a colonial French and the Black Creoles formed a French,Spanish, and West African hybrid language, which is still spoken in central Louisiana today. Creole French is still spoken in New Orleans. Whites of French/Spanish mixture were referred to as French Creoles, and the mixed mulatto population was referred to as African Creole, Black Creole, Mixed Creole, or even Creoles of Color.

John James Audubon was a White French Creole
John James Audubon was a White French Creole

The transfer of the French colony to the United States in 1803 (officially admitted into statehood in 1812) and the arrival of Anglo-Saxons from New England ignited an outright cultural war. Anglo-Saxons, reportedly disgusted by the cultural and linguistic climate of the newly acquired territory, the United States' first Louisiana governor, W.C.C. Claiborne swiftly moved to thoroughly Americanize the Louisiana people in making English the official language. Outraged, Louisiana Creoles in New Orleans allegedly paraded the streets of New Orleans renouncing the Americans' effort to transform them into Americans overnight. Realizing that he needed the local support to make any progress in Louisiana, Claiborne restored French as an official language of the newly acquired state, and in all forms of government, public forums and in the Catholic Church, French continued to be used. Most importantly, Colonial French and Creole French remained the language of the majority of the population of the state. New Orleans remained a city divided between Latin (French, French Creole, and African Creole) and Anglo-Saxon populations until well into the late 19th century (Hirsch & Logsdon). Among the eighteen governors of Louisiana between 1803-1865, six were Creole and were monolingual speakers of French: Jacques-Philippe Villeré, Pierre Augustin Charles Bourguignon Derbigny, Armand Julien Beauvais, Jacques Dupré de Terrebonne, André Bienvenue Roman, and Alexandre Mouton. portrait of John James Audubon from 19th century book This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... William Charles Cole Claiborne (1775 - 23 November 1817) was a United States politican, best known as the first U.S. governor of Louisiana. ... The name Catholic Church can mean a visible organization that refers to itself as Catholic, or the invisible Christian Church, viz. ...

When Americans began to arrive in Louisiana, locals began identifying themselves overtly as Creoles to distinguish themselves from the "nouveaux-arrivés" from New England and the American South.

If the American Civil War promised rights and opportunities for the enslaved, it caused anxiety for the Free Person of Color. Louisiana under the French and Spanish housed a three-tiered society, similar to that of Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, Mexico, and other French and Spanish colonies. This three tiered-society allowed for the emergence of a wealthy and educated group of mixed and black Creoles. Their identity as a Free Person of Color, or Gens de couleur libres or 'personne de couleur libre' was one they had worked diligently towards and guarded with an iron-fist. They enjoyed most rights and privileges, by law, as whites, and could and often did challenge the law in court of law winning their case against whites (Hirsch; Brasseaux; Mills; Kein etc.). Knowing that the United States did not legally recognize a three-tiered society, the American Civil War posed a considerable threat to the identity and position of the Free People of Color. Following the Union victory in the Civil War, the Louisiana three-tiered society was dismantled. Gens de couleur is a French term meaning people of color. ...

In efforts to maintain their social and political identity, the former Gens de couleur libres began using the term 'Creole' much in the same way that the white elite did beginning in 1803. The Gens de couleur libres were native speakers of both Colonial French and Louisiana Creole. Louisiana Creole (Créole Louisiane and Kourí-Viní, as it is known in and near St. ...

Black slaves in Louisiana, particularly in the southern realm of the state, were also Creoles. The success of the Union in the Civil War ultimately released slaves from servitude, at least on paper. Through sharecropping and Jim Crow laws, they found themselves in bondage again. However this servitude allowed for the preservation of the Creole language of the Black Creole working class of South Louisiana. They too were largely of Roman Catholic faith and saw themselves different from their Protestant English-speaking counterparts.


Louisiana Creoles historically have spoken Louisiana Creole, Colonial Louisiana French and Metropolitan French. Louisiana Creole (Créole Louisiane and Kourí-Viní, as it is known in and near St. ... Map of the first (light blue) and second (dark blue — plain and hachured) French colonial empires France had colonial possessions, in various forms, from the beginning of the 17th century until the 1960s. ...

Cane River Creoles

The Cane River Creole community is made up of descendants of French, Spanish, Africans, Native Americans, other Creole migrants from New Orleans, and various other ethnic groups who inhabited this region. It is centered around Isle Brevelle in lower Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. There are many Creole Communities within Natchitoches Parish including Natchitoches, Cloutierville, Derry, and Natchez. Many plantations also still exist. Isle Brevelle, the area of land between Cane River and Bayou Brevelle, encompasses approximately 18,000 acres (73 km²) of land, 16,000 of which are still owned by descendants of these original Creole families. The Cane River Creole familiy last names are but are not limited to : the Metoyer, LaCour, Coutee, Monette, Balthazar, Sylvie, Moran, Rachal, Conant, Beaudion, Darville, Mullone, Severin, St.Ville, LLORENS, Delphin, Sarpy, Laurent, DeSoto, Christophe, Honore, Chevalier, Anty, Dubreil, Roque, Cloutier, LeVasseur, Meziere, Bellow, Gallien, Conde, and the Dupre. (Most of the surnames are of French or Spanish origin)[3] World map showing location of Africa A satellite composite image of Africa Africa is the worlds second_largest continent in both area and population, after Asia. ... This article is about the people indigenous to the United States. ... New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana, United States of America. ...

Identity Issues

In the early 20th century, Creoles were forced to speak English in school. The effort to remove Creole French from the population led to a drop in native speakers. In 1980, a movement to restore Cajun or Creole French to the area began and what has been termed French Immersion has been incorporated into many schools.

Many locals, especially those of relatively pure French and Spanish Creole descent, have often argued that the traditional usage excluded African lineage.

The American Civil Rights Movement called for Black and Mixed Creoles to either join the rest of country in gaining inalienable rights or to continue to exist without social and political rights. It also called for them to identify as Negro or Black, instead of the Creole identity, because Creole was a culture vs. a race. An identity, then and now, that American Blacks have not recognized.

The Louisiana Creole definition, defines Creole people as those who are "generally known as a people of any of the following mixes: French, Spanish, African, and Native American ancestry, most of whom reside in or have familial ties to Louisiana. Many other ethnicities have contributed to this culture including, but not limited to Irish, Italian, or German.

Because of Claims to the name by Louisiana Whites and Blacks, Creole is now accepted as a broad cultural group of people who share French and/or Spanish ancestry. Contrary to popular belief, a Creole does not exclusively pertain to a person of African and French descent. The first Creoles were White French Creoles and Black Creoles did not exist until much time after. A Creole can be White or Black, just like an American can be. Creole is a culture not a race.

A definition from the earliest history in New Orleans (circa 1718) is "a child born in the colony as opposed to France or Spain. (see Criollo)"[4] The definition became more codified after the United States took control of the city and Louisiana in 1803. The Creoles at that time included the Spanish ruling class, who ruled from the mid-1700s until the early 1800s. New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana, United States of America. ... Criollo is a Spanish term (feminine criolla, plural criollos/criollas) which may refer to: The Criollos, a caste in the Spanish colonial caste system. ... This article is about the U.S. State. ...

Caribbean Air

In the United States, culture has come to serve as the dividing factor between "races" and skin color (Domínguez). That is to say that, in most countries and regions of the Caribbean realm, culture is shared by everyone, regardless of skin color or ancestral origins. In the Dominican Republic, rice and beans, traditionally considered an "ethnic dish" in the United States, is eaten and prepared in the homes of white, mixed, black, and Arabs of both nationalities. In Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, Papiamentu, a Portuguese-based Creole language, is spoken by the entire island, regardless of skin color or ancestral origins.

Louisiana is no exception to this rule. Rice and gravy, red beans and rice, boudin, gumbo, étouffée, jambalaya, all "ethnic" dishes are eaten and savored by all Louisianans, whether Black or White.

In addition, the colonial (Creole) architecture of Louisiana bears striking resemblances with architecture in France, Spain, and the Caribbean. The distinct raised roof, gallery-wrapped Creole plantation homes of Louisiana are heavily modeled after traditional central/south western European architecture. But also, has many things in common with Guadeloupe, Martinique, Cuba, Haiti and those painting the landscape of many Caribbean islands left by Europeans.

It is therefore not odd, either, to find Louisianans with Spanish or French features, even some with African features, carrying family names such as Dupre, Villere, Romero, Hernández or Rodríguez who can find their roots in France, Spain, Vera Cruz Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean.


Gumbo is a feature of Cajun and Louisiana Creole cuisine.

Louisiana Creole cuisine is recognized as a unique a style of cooking originating in New Orleans, which makes use of the same Holy trinity (in this case chopped celery, bell peppers, and onions) as Cajun cuisine, but has a large variety of European, French, Caribbean, African, and American influences. Image File history File linksMetadata Bozogumbo. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Bozogumbo. ... Dishes typical of Creole food Louisiana Creole cuisine is a style of cooking originating in Louisiana (centered on the Greater New Orleans area) that blends French, Mediterranean, French Caribbean, African, and American influences. ... NOLA redirects here. ... The holy trinity of cuisine are the three ingredients key to a particular cuisine. ... The European peoples are the various nations and ethnic groups of Europe. ... World map showing location of Africa A satellite composite image of Africa Africa is the worlds second_largest continent in both area and population, after Asia. ...

Gumbo is a traditional Creole dish. It was created in New Orleans by the French attempting to make bouillabaisse in the New World. The Spanish contributed onions, peppers, and tomatoes; the Africans contributed okra, where the dish gets its name due to the popularity of the vegetable in the stew; the Indians contributed Filé, which is ground sassafras leaves; and later on the Italians blasted it with garlic. The Germans contributed potato salad as a side and even started the practice of eating gumbo with a scoop of potato salad in it. The Germans also dominated the french bread industry in New Orleans and brought the practice of eating gumbo with buttered french bread. The French gave the roux to the stew and spices from the Caribbean, and over time it became less of a bouillabaisse and more of what is called gumbo. It is a stew consisting of, but can vary depending on the family, seafood gumbo( shrimp, crab, sausage, and oyster) or chicken sausage gumbo( chicken, sausage), and all contain the "Holy Trinity" and are served over rice. It is often seasoned with filé by Cajuns and Creoles all over Louisiana. A bowl of shrimp gumbo Gumbo is a spicy, hearty stew or soup, found typically in the states on the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, and very common in the southern part of Louisiana and the Lowcountry around Charleston, South Carolina. ... Filé powder, also called gumbo filé, is used in the making of gumbo, a thick Cajun soup. ... The holy trinity of cuisine are the three ingredients key to a particular cuisine. ... Filé powder, also called gumbo filé, is used in the making of gumbo, a thick Cajun soup. ...

History reveals that "Gumbo" (Gombô, in Louisiana Creole, Gombo, in Louisiana French) was the word used in West and Central Africa for the okra plant. Okra is from the regions of Africa, and parts of the Middle East and Spain. The use of the word gombo was used to name the stew, due to its popularity to thicken the mixture before the roux came along. Thus, the stew was named Gumbo, because of the French accent used after first hearing Africans call Okra "Gombo," as in a shortening of the word kilogombó or kigambó, and guingambó or quinbombó, in West African. Binomial name (L.) Moench Okra (American English: , British English ), also known as ladys finger[1], bhindi (Hindustani) and gumbo, is a flowering plant in the mallow family (along with such species as cotton and cocoa) valued for its edible green fruits. ...

Jambalaya is the second in line of fame of Louisiana Creole dishes. It finds its origin in the original European city sector of New Orleans; the French Quarter, or vieux carré, in colonial days combining ham with sausage, rice and tomato. Today, jambalaya is prepared two ways: in New Orleans and its immediate environment, in parts of Iberia Parish as well as in parts of St. Martin Parish, jambalaya is red, and has for its base, tomato. Cajuns, generally speaking, prepare a "brown jambalaya", which is roux based with tasso. Jambalaya can combine chicken, sausage, fresh shrimp tails; or chicken and tasso. Improvised looking bowl of jambalaya This article is about the food. ...


Jazz, born in New Orleans sometime around the turn of the twentieth century, is the first local Black Creole music to be popularized. For other uses, see Jazz (disambiguation). ...

Amédé Ardoin, A Black Creole, made the first audio recordings of Zydeco music in 1928.
Amédé Ardoin, A Black Creole, made the first audio recordings of Zydeco music in 1928.

Zydeco (a transliteration in English of 'zaricô' (Snapbeans) from the song, "Les haricots sont pas salés"), born in Cajun and Black Creole communities on the prairies of southwest Louisiana in the 1920s is considered by many, if not most, as the Black Creole music of Louisiana. Zydeco purportedly hails from "Là-là", a genre of music now defunct, and old south Louisiana jurés. As Cajun French was the lingua franca of the prairies of southwest Louisiana, Zydeco was initially sung only in Creole or French. Later, creole-speaking Black Creoles, such as the Chénier brothers, Rosie Lédet and others, added a new linguistic element to Zyedco music. Today, most of Zydeco's new generation sings in English or Cajun French with a few in Louisiana Creole French. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Amédé Ardoin (march 11, 1898 to 1941? or 1950?) was a black creole Louisiana musician, known for his high singing voice and virtuosity on the 10-button (diatonic or Cajun) accordion. ... Early Creole musicians playing an accordion and a washboard in front of a store, near New Iberia, Louisiana (1938). ... Cajun French (sometimes called Louisiana Regional French [2]) is one of three varieties or dialects of the French language spoken primarily in the U.S. state of Louisiana, specifically in the southern parishes. ... Lingua franca, literally Frankish language in Italian, was originally a mixed language consisting largely of Italian plus a vocabulary drawn from Turkish, Persian, French, Greek and Arabic and used for communication throughout the Middle East. ... Rosie Ledet is a Creole Zydeco vocalist and accordion player. ...

Zydeco is related to Swamp Pop, American Blues, Jazz, and Cajun music. An instrument unique to Zydeco music is a form of washboard called the frottoir, or scrubboard, a vest made of corrugated aluminum, and played by using bottle openers or caps down the length of the vest. Swamp pop musician Jivin Gene, circa 1959. ... American Blues were a 1960s Texas based garage band who played a psychedelic style of blues rock music influenced by the 13th Floor Elevators. ... For other uses, see Jazz (disambiguation). ... Cajun music, an emblematic music of Louisiana, is rooted in the ballads of the French-speaking Catholics of Canada. ... A vest frottoir is an instrument used in Zydeco music. ...

See also

The term Creole and its cognates in other languages — such as crioulo, criollo, créole, kriolu, criol, kreyol, kriulo, kriol, krio, etc. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Isle of Canes (ISBN 1-59331-306-3), a novel by Elizabeth Shown Mills, follows an African family from its importation and enslavement in 1735 through four generations of freedom in Creole Louisiana to its re-subjugation by Jim Crow at the close of the nineteenth century. ... This is a list of articles that are related to African and black people. ...


  1. ^ http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?code=lou
  2. ^ http://margaretmedia.com/mexico-creole/connection.htm
  3. ^ http://www.nsula.edu/regionalfolklife/crcc/default.htm
  4. ^ See also American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, at def. 2a. (Houghton Mifflin Company).

External links

  • Louisiana State University Library Exhibit: The Creole City
  • French Creoles in Louisiana: An American Tale



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