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Helping to sustain the traditional cultures of coastal Louisiana

We offer strategies to help ensure traditions are passed on to future generations. The Louisiana Division of the Arts Folklife Program and the Louisiana Folklore Society produce workshops in addition to offering funds to organizations and individuals.

The Bayou Culture Collaborative supports workshops to sustain the traditional cultures of coastal Louisiana.  Currently we support two types of workshops. 

Sense of Place—and Loss workshops bring together artists, tradition bearers, folklorists, and scientists to explore the connections between art, tradition, and science and to inspire advocacy and creativity in the face of land loss and cultural shifts. We partner with other non-profits and university centers to produce these workshops. 

Passing It On workshops are taught by a tradition bearer to pass on a tradition. Funds can be paid to an organization or directly to the teacher. Expenses can include the teacher honorarium and supplies. Activities must take place before June 30, 2020. If you would like to offer a workshop or mini-apprenticeship, contact: Maida Owens, Louisiana Folklife Program, folklife@crt.la.gov, 225-342-8178 to discuss possibilities.  

How Can You Help? 

The Louisiana Folklore Society offers several opportunities for you to get involved.  Attend the workshops and gatherings and become a member.  Learn more at www.louisianafolklore.org.

Bayou Culture Collaborative in the News

In 2019, the Bayou Culture Collaborative received some media attention. Many thanks to Tegan Wendland at WWOZ for her radio spot that featured Houma Indian palmetto weaver Janie Luster and her apprentice Rhett Williams. Storms, Rising Seas Threaten Louisiana's Unique Mix Of Cultures aired on NPR Weekend Edition Sunday on Sunday, July 21 and WWNO on June 28. WWNO also produced Heart of the Palmetto, a video short about Luster and Williams.

In May as part of a LPB/WWNO collaboration, Tegan Wendland interviewed Maida Owens about the Bayou Culture Collaborative for the Sinking Cities project. The interview, Maintaining Louisiana Traditions as Communities Relocate, is online.

Louisiana Public Square in May focused on Louisiana's land loss as part of public television's rebroadcast of the Sinking Cities series. Sinking Louisiana featured a panel comprised of USGS climate scientist Dr. Virginia Burkett, Pat Forbes with Office of Community Development, Bren Haase with Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), and WWNO Coastal reporter Tegan Wendland. Maida Owens participated as an audience member.

In November 2018, Jonathan Foret with the Southeast Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center gave the Pecha Kucha, Moving Traditions Forward in which explains the impetus of the project.

Bayou Traditions

Workshops or mini-apprenticeships can focus on traditional knowledge of the environment and any folk tradition, including music, crafts, dance, occupations, oral traditions, foodways, ritual traditions, and more. Tradition bearers can come from any traditional culturefrom those of Native Americans to those descended from the earliest settlers to the most recent immigrants—in coastal parishes. See examples of traditions here.  



Bayou Culture Collaborative Events

Below are the offerings this year.  Most events are free, but some require registration because space is limited. See last year's workshops and events here.  

November 19 - 21, 2020
Grand Bayou Indian Foodways Workshop
  Grand Bayou Indian Village Tribal Center
  11 am to 3 pm
Description: This workshop is a celebration of Tribal life and foodways for Tribal members of Grand Bayou Indian Village. Food harvesting and preparation is very important to our people; our foods and traditions are an integral part of our fellowship with each other and includes all age groups. We are blessed by the Creator with food resources in our waters and lands. Recipes and traditional preparation of these foods have been passed down throughout generations; this workshop will ensure that our traditional foods and knowledge of their harvest and preparations will continue to be handed down to our future generations.
Collaborators: The Lowlander Center; Grand Bayou Indian Village, Atakapa-Ishak Chawasha
Facilitators: Rosina Philippe, Carmalita Sylve
Registration: Contact Rosina Philippe, Grand Bayou Indian Village, Atakapa-Ishak Chawasha, rpatakapa@yahoo.com, (304) 266-9047.
September to December 2020
Cypress Paddle Making
  Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building, 202 Main Street, Lockport, Louisiana, 70374
  First Saturdays, September 5, October 3, November7, December 5
  8 am to 12 pm
Description: The Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building will offer a workshop on making cypress paddles. The class is offered on Saturday, September 5, October 3, November 7, and December 5. Each workshop is limited to up to four people. The workshop will cover the methods and techniques for restoring a cypress dugout pirogue using traditional hand tools.
Collaborators: Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building
Facilitators: Ernie Savoie
Registration: Limited Seating. Contact Vickie Eserman, 985-856-3278, louisianaboatbuilding@gmail.com to register.
October 6, 13, 20, November 10, 2020
Botanica: A Series of Conversations
  Online Zoom events
  6:30pm – 8pm, Tuesdays
Description: Botanica is a multi-racial/ethnic collaboration that pulls together storytellers, scholars, herbalists, museums, artists, and gardeners to cross-pollinate knowledge of ethnobotany across communities in south Louisiana. At the heart of this project is the idea of reciprocal sharing—introducing traditional Indigenous knowledge of plants that Houma communities have been preserved in gardens with the region, and for healers in other communities to healing plants within the bayou communities. It is our hope that this project will create bridges between communities who have been segregated from one another to create long-lasting relationships. The work will include oral histories, portraits, photographs of plants and their healing properties, and recipes.
Collaborators: Land Memory Bank & Seed Exchange, The Neighborhood Story Project
Facilitators: Monique Verdin, Land Memory Bank & Seed Exchange; Dr. Tammy Greer, Citizen of the United Houma Nation, Medicine Keeper; Rachel Reeves, MayPop Herb Shop; Bvlbancha Collective; Bruce Sunpie Barnes.
Registration: Free and Open to the public, but you must register to attend these zoom events. See the event on The Neighborhood Story Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/neighborhoodstoryproject
October 2020
Cypress Dugout Pirogue Restoration
  Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building, 202 Main Street, Lockport, Louisiana, 70374
  Tuesdays, October 6, 13, 20, 27, 2020
  5 pm to 7 pm
Description: The Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building will offer a series of four workshops on restoring a cypress dugout pirogue for up to 5 people. The workshop will cover the methods and techniques for restoring a cypress dugout pirogue using traditional hand tools.
Collaborators: Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building
Facilitators: Ernie Savoie
Registration: Limited Seating. Contact Vickie Eserman, 985-856-3278, louisianaboatbuilding@gmail.com to register.
September 29, 2020
Sense of Place – And Loss: The Arts and Creative Responses to Louisiana’s Land Loss
  Arts Summit – Virtual
  1 pm – 2 pm
Description: The Bayou Culture Collaborative presents a workshop to help artists and arts administrators explore the impact of south Louisiana’s land loss on the arts communities statewide. This will follow up on Xavier Cortada’s message at the 2019 Louisiana Arts Summit. Migrations from the coast have already started and will increase in coming years. Some may need to decide whether to stay or where to move. Those farther from the coast in receiver communities will need to consider the impact of people moving into their community.
Collaborators: Arts Summit, Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, Bayou Culture Collaborative, Another Gulf is Possible.
Facilitators: Lisa Rathje, Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education; Monique Verdin Another Gulf is Possible; Maida Owens, Louisiana Division of the Arts Folklife Program.
Registration: Register at 2020 Louisiana Arts Summit, https://www.artsbr.org/louisiana-arts-summit-2020.
September 19
Cloth Doll Making
  Finding Our Roots African American Museum, 918 Roussel St, Houma, LA 70360
  11 am to 2 pm
Description: Jessica Brown with Jessy's Dolls, will offer a cloth doll making workshop for up to 20 girls in the age range of 6 to 16. The workshop will teach girls how to make cloth dolls and learn stuffing, stitching, and dressing, while inspiring pride, self-love, confidence and creativity.  They will learn a brief history about dolls and cultural awareness. There will be step-by-step instructions while making dolls. Each girl will bring home her very own doll after she finished creating her.
Collaborators: Jessy's Dolls, Finding Our Roots African American Museum
Facilitators: Jessica Brown, Jessy's Dolls
Registration: Limited Seating. Contact Cristina or Jessica Brown,  zyirbabyboutique@gmail.com, 985-688-997 or Jessy's Dolls on Facebook.
March 25 Cancelled, to be rescheduled
A Sense of Place—and Loss: A Workshop on Facing Change through Folklife, Science, and the Arts

If we only have three more generations living in coastal Louisiana,
what should we be doing now?

  Century Room inside Guidry Stadium at Nicholls State University, Thibodaux
  10 am to 2 pm. Lunch provided.
Description: Behind the national headlines about dramatic land loss in coastal Louisiana live traditional and contemporary artists who explore and incorporate their environment, ecology, and culture into their work. Likewise, scientists examine species, patterns of disruption, and future scenarios. What may scientists learn from artists, and vice versa? How may art-science collaborations reach communities at risk, and how can this inform a sense of direction about what matters to community members?
The Bayou Culture Collaborative invites regional artists, policy makers, community members, and scientists to a free immersive workshop to spend time together and with presenters who work in folklife, the sciences, and the arts to inspire advocacy and creativity in the face of land loss and cultural shifts.
Collaborators: Louisiana Folklife Program, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, Local Learning: National Network for Folk Arts in Education, Louisiana Folklore Society
Facilitators: Monique Verdin, artist/author; Shana Walton, Nicholls State University; and Gary LaFleur, Nicholls State University Center for Bayou Studies. The workshop will be facilitated by Lisa Rathje, Director of Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education.
Registration: Space is limited. We’ll provide lunch, so we ask you to register today! For information or to register contact Nicole Babin at BTNEP, 985-447-0868, Nicole@btnep.org.
Existing Documentation

Find essays on the Folklife in Louisiana website and other sources that address traditions in Louisiana's coastal communities here.

Collaborators and Funders

This project is a collaboration between Louisiana Folklore Society, the Louisiana Division of the Arts Folklife Program, the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center, Nicholls State University Center for Bayou Studies, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Center for Louisiana Studies, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, and other non-profits.

The collaborative is funded with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, and the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism.

If you would like to know more, contact the Folklife Program director or explore the Folklife in Louisiana website.

©2020 Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism