Research Projects

The Mexican Community of Forest Hill, Louisiana

Pockets of Hispanic population can be found throughout rural Central and Northwest Louisiana, yet they are all but invisible to most residents of the region. Although little noticed, Hispanics, and particularly those of Mexican origin, play an increasingly critical role in certain industries within the region. An example of the growing Hispanic influence is found in the town of Forest Hill, located in southern Rapides Parish. Over the past three decades the nursery industry of Forest Hill has become dependent on Mexican labor.

Reconnecting the Present to the Past: The Caddo People Return to the Lower Red River Valley

The Caddo people are reconnecting their present lives to the sacred places of their past. These places, the very earth that they walk upon, the trees, the mounds, the plants, and the archeological objects left behind, all have a special significance in the Caddo world. From the pottery vessels exquisitely crafted out of the clay in the ground to the lone cedar tree at the Battle Mound location, in the context of the Caddo world, all of these resources are uniquely and intimately tied to the beliefs, traditions, culture, and history of the Caddo people. Robert Cast, Historic Preservation Officer, Caddo Nation of Oklahoma

Civil War to Civil Rights: The African American Community in Natchitoches, Louisiana

In 2006, the Louisiana Regional Folklife Program at Northwestern State University of Louisiana [NSU] received a grant from the Cane River National Heritage Area [CRNHA] to support the creation of an online tour of places of importance to the African American community in Natchitoches. This project was not intended to focus on the institution of slavery, to which people of color had been subjected since 1718 in Louisiana. Rather, this project was designed to document the evolution of a community and to celebrate some of the people who helped to shape that community into what it is today.

The Talimali Band of Apalachee

Before the arrival of Spanish explorers, the Apalachee nation controlled northern Florida. Highly advanced agriculturalists, the Apalachee were eventually weakened by the onslaught of European disease, repeated wars, and the Catholic mission system. Abandoning their traditional territory in 1704, the Talimali Band of Apalachee began a sojourn that would bring them to Louisiana in 1763.

George A. Stokes Photographic Inventory of Folk Houses in Rural Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana

In 2004, the Louisiana Regional Folklife Program at NSU, in partnership with Cammie G. Henry Research Center, undertook a project to inventory and digitize Dr. Stokes’ photographic collection and to create a searchable database. Dr. Stokes’ inventory has been a valuable resource in our efforts to document vernacular architecture in Natchitoches Parish and greatly enhances our larger objective of documenting vernacular architecture within the entire region.

African American Heritage Tour of Shreveport-Bossier

In 2003, the Louisiana Regional Folklife Program at Northwestern State University partnered with the Multicultural Tourism Commission to develop a heritage tour that can be enjoyed both online and on the ground.

Southeastern Basketry Gathering

The first Gathering of Southeastern Indian Basketweavers was held on May 17 and 18, 2002, in the Student Union Ballroom at Northwestern State University. The gathering was coordinated by Dr. Dayna Bowker Lee of the Louisiana Regional Folklife Program and Dr. H. F. Pete Gregory of the Department of Social Sciences and Williamson Museum.

The McNeill Street Pumping Station

Working with the McNeill Street Pumping Station Preservation Society and former employees, the Louisiana Regional Folklife Program, at NSU, documented the occupational folklore associated with the Pumping Station.

Cane River Creole Community

In an effort to develop cultural tourism initiatives within Louisiana's Creole communities that accurately interpret Creole history and tradition, the Louisiana Regional Folklife Program has partnered with the Creole Heritage Center to develop a driving tour of the Cane River Creole community.

Choctaw Split Cane Basketry

An ongoing project is underway to document on film and with photos the traditions of Choctaw Split Cane Basketry. This project is a joint effort by the Jena Band of Choctaw, the U. S. Forest Service, and the Regional Folklife Program.

Making Tamales in Northwestern Louisiana

As part of an interpretive program at Los Adaes State Historic Site, Rhonda Gauthier and Mr. John Remedies demonstrate the art of tamale making.

Riding Clubs in Central Louisiana

Riding clubs have a relatively short history of less than 40 years in the Natchitoches Parish area. No one seems to be certain about the origin of the clubs, but Odrie Turner, a former president of the Big "T" Riding Club, states that the Cane River Riding Club was the first in Natchitoches. The Big "T" Riding Club and the Louisiana Highsteppers then followed.

Snell Slideshow

I started my journal at the 2001 Natchitoches Folk Festival, held in Natchitoches, Louisiana, at NSU. This was in July of 2001 and was a very exciting year for me.