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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,, 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

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.  

March 21 - Cancelled, to be rescheduled

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  
  Limited Seating. Contact Cristina or Jessica Brown,, 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.
Collaborator(s):   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,
 March - May

Brown Cotton Weaving 

Description:   Elaine Larcade Bourque will teach Austin Clark the tradition of carding, spinning, and weaving brown cotton weaving as practiced by Gladys Clark and the LeBlanc family in a series of classes in spring 2020. They will focus on the entire process from planting, harvesting, ginning to carding, spinning, weaving, and dyeing including the different Acadian patterns and the Acadian French terms used for the process and tools.      
Facilitator: Elaine Larcade Bourque     

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