… this mysterious and curious place along the Mighty Mississippi River, which drew us all here.
When I read the stories I reposted by Our French Oasis, I saw in them the roots of New Orleans culture. Couple that with Spanish culture and Afro-Caribbean culture, and you have the foundation of our Creole heritage. Later came Cajun, American, Italian, German, Irish, Jewish, Latino, and other influences. I do not think others realize it but French, Spanish, and Afro-Carribean languages were spoken here long before English was our native tongue. English was made the official language after the Americans made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
Peoples of African ancestry have made the most profound and lasting influences on our culture. Initially brought to Louisiana as slaves, there were also Free People of Color of mixed ancestry, known today as Creoles. Although slavery is a hot button political issue today, it was the foundation for the economic engine that ran our state in the beginning of our existence. They gave their lives for the place we call home. The women who worked in the plantation homes had a greater influence on the residents of those homes because they reared the children and cooked the meals, much like housekeepers throughout the ages. These women introduced ingredients from Africa and African dishes to our tables while using native ingredients as well. Our music was born out of the pain of these people. Worship is elevated to another level with this music. Many of the glorious structures around us were built by slaves and their descendants. Most of the masters of the trades were once of African descent. Folks would have to move around with blinders on not to see all of the Afro-Carribean influences on the development of New Orleans… this mysterious and curious place along the Mighty Mississippi River, which drew us all here.
Before we were all drawn here, this area was inhabited by Native Americans. The Mardi Gras Indians were born out of the inter-relationship of these natives and the slaves. The costumes of the Mardi Gras Indians take a year and many beaders to construct. Each year these costumes have a different theme and are expertly designed. They embody the profound and lasting influences people of African ancestry still have on New Orleans.