Who are the Creoles of Colonial Louisiana

Creole House on the King’s Road in Prairie du Rocher, Illinois (photo kctraillinois)

In North America the inhabitants of Louisiana, Canada, and Acadia were considered “Frenchmen” by the Native Americans, the British, and the Americans.

With a view to distinguishing Acadians and Canadians from the Louisiana born settlers, the authorities of New France came to use the word “Creoles” to designate the latter group of citizens. In 1684, Baron Lahontan, who had visited Upper Louisiana, wrote about the French speaking people born in the colonies that they were either Canadians or Acadians or Creoles. The term “Gens du pays” (Country Folk) was also commonly used for distinguishing the separate and distinct societies. This movement of national identity had nothing to do with the Creole language, the color of skin, the accent, or the ethnicity.

Creole is a word derived from the Latin word “creare”, which means “to create” or “to cause to exist”. In its broadest sense, it implies “native”, in this case “born in Colonial French Louisiana”. Concerning the identity of America’s nations, however, a Creole historically refers to a person born in Colonial Louisiana during both the French and the Spanish periods, regardless of his or her ethnicity.