Bayou Culture Collaborative logo

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.

Currently, the collaborative is supporting workshops or mini-apprenticeships taught by a tradition bearer. 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.  

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.  

September 21

A Sense of Place—and Loss: Artists and Scientists Facing Change

  Acadiana Center for the Arts, 101 West Vermilion Street, Lafayette
    10 am to 3 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 in addition to scientists who examine these aspects. What may scientists learn from artists and vice versa? How may art-science collaborations have broader impacts to reach communities at risk? The Bayou Culture Collaborative invites regional artists 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, Local Learning: National Network for Folk Arts in Education, Louisiana Folklore Society, Acadiana Center for the Arts 
Facilitators: Paddy Bowman, Founding Director of Local Learning: The National Network for Folk Arts in Education, Brandon Ballengée, visual artist and biologist, Louisiana State University; Prosanta Chakrabarty,  Associate Professor and Curator of Ichthyology at LSU; Suzanne Fredericq, UL Professor of Biology; Janie Luster, traditional Houma artist; and Lynda Frese, visual artist and UL Professor Emerita. See more about the presenters here
Registration:  For information or to register contact Paige Krause at the AcA, 337-233-7060 x 232 .
August 26 - September 7

Houma Half-Hitch Palmetto Weaving and Spanish Moss Doll making

  Theriot, Louisiana
Description: Master artists Janie Luster and Ann Luster will teach traditional Houma Indian palmetto basket making and Spanish moss doll making in two series of workshops for youth and adults. Janie Luster and her daughter Ann Luster are master palmetto basket weavers, Spanish moss doll makers, and cultural preservationists of the United Houma Nation. Hailing from the community of Bayou DuLarge in Terrebonne Parish, Janie comes from a long line of traditional healers and is a tribal advocate.

A dedicated practitioner of diverse tribal customs, Janie is widely recognized for her coiled half-hitch baskets, made using an intricate weaving technique lost to the Houma for nearly a generation. Reintroduced by Luster in the 1990s, the hitch-coil method with a half-hitch knot-common in areas of South and Central America-is considered limited in North America to Louisiana's largest tribe of indigenous peoples. They also make jewelry and home decor using the dried diamond-shaped scales of the alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula), a ray-finned fish native to the southeastern United States.
Facilitators: Janie Luster, Ann Luster
 Space is limited. Call to schedule your space. For information, contact Janie Luster at 985-860-9387 or Ann Luster at 985-226-6171.  
October 26-27

Narrative Stage and the Rougarou Quilters at the Rougarou Fest

  Houma, Louisiana
Description: Tradition bearers will share folktales, knowledge about medicinal plants, and traditional crafts on both days. The Rougarou Quilters tent will feature the making of a ghost forest community quilt. Visitors can help create quilt blocks representing each of the bayou communities in Terrebonne Parish. For information, see  

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, and University of Louisiana at Lafayette Center for Louisiana Studies.

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