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The first settlers encountered challenges of isolation and survival as they settled into a very different environment from which they came. They turned to the Native Americans to acquire the living skills required to survive in this new area such as using a boat (pirogue) as a primary transportation mode.

Because the early settlers were isolated, most of their food came from their immediate surroundings and they lived off the land.

Through sharing skills for survival, the cultures of the French, Spanish, Acadians and African-Americans (and smaller numbers of Caribbean peoples, Germans, Italians, and Czechs) began to merge peacefully, creating a cultural blend evident today. Skills and crafts have long been tied to available resources such as alligators and cypress lumber. Survival solutions present in early lifestyles such as crawfish netting, boat building, and decoy carving continue to manifest themselves in traditions and lifeways today.  Creoles, some of whom were Free People of Color, influenced plantation life, slavery, secession, the Civil War, and reconstruction in ways different from that experienced in other regions of the South.  Coexisting, multiple ethnicities influenced architecture, religious traditions, storytelling, and foodways, and the Cajun and Creole French languages were preserved and passed down through generations.

For more on Atchafalaya National Heritage Area traditions, visit:





Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

• National Park Service affiliate
• "Passport to Your National Parks" Program
• Member of Alliance of National Heritage Areas
National Park Service Affiliate Louisiana Travel - Pick Your Passion Alliance of National Heritage Areas Gulf Coast States Geo-Tourism