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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 neccessary to survive in this new area, such as using a boat (pirogue) as a primary transportation mode.

Because the early settlers were isolated, they lived off the land and obtained most of their food from immediate surroundings. Through sharing skills for survival, the cultures of the French, Spanish, Acadians and African-Americans (along with smaller numbers of Caribbean peoples, Germans, Italians, and Czechs) began to merge peacefully, creating a cultural blend still 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 ethnicities exerted their influence on architecture, religious traditions, storytelling and foodways, while 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