Cane River Creole Historic National Park (CARI)-Blanca Trujillo

Brief History about the CARI

Location: Natchitoches, Louisiana (Northwest part of the state)
Culture: Creole
People who live around here have different definitions of what it means to be Creole, so it depends on who you ask, but the National Park Service(NPS) uses these definitions-

  1. Colonial Louisiana definition- “Those born in Louisiana during French and Spanish periods (before 1803- The Louisiana Purchase/U. S influence), regardless of ethnicity”
  2. Today’s Definition- Descendants of European settlers, enslaved Africans, or those of mixed heritage (African, French, Spanish and Native American)
    Plantations: 2 (Oakland and Magnolia). There are 2 plantations within CARI, Oakland and Magnolia.
    Current Terminology:
    1) Enslaved (replaces the word slave)
    2) Enslaver (replaces the word slave owner, master, owner)
    Think of a plantation as a very small town. Common places within a plantation include: slave quarters, crop/fields (in this case cotton), overseers house, main house, black smith shop, post office, and store.

Image: Southern Magnolia Tree (Magnolia grandiflora) at the Oakland Plantation

Hello from Natchitoches, LA (pronounced: Nack-ah-tish, but say it fast…good luck)!

I wanted to provide a brief summary of the history of CARI for your understanding. I will post more information throughout my time here.

My drive here from Michigan was pretty cool, especially driving to my housing site. I was amazed with the French Colonial architecture, as well as the beautiful Cane River-Lake.

On my first day at CARI, I was given a tour of both plantation sites, Magnolia and Oakland. I learned a lot about the history of the land, and of those who were enslaved and built the plantation sites.

This summer, I will be learning and sharing some of the history and describing the surroundings of Oakland and Magnolia in their current state. I will also attempt to describe why these plantations, within CARI, were designated as a National Historical Park.

Natural Resources

From a Natural resource perspective, it is interesting to see how the history and landscape connect. Specifically, how the location of the Cane River/Lake influenced where the plantations were built.

Many groups of people inhabited this area (French, African, Spanish, Native Americans), and used the natural resources surrounding the plantations to create shelters suitable for living in the heat of the south. They also used Cane River as a way to sustain their economy and connect to the outside world.


I have observed several types of bird for the first time (Baltimore Oriole, Great Crested Flycatcher, Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Northern Mockingbirds, and my new favorite, Painted Bunting).  I look forward to continuing my birding experience this summer through the bird programs I am currently developing..

Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) at the Oakland Planation                                                  

Food and Culture

From a food perspective, I am looking forward to experience the local favorite Natchitoches meat pies (think of empanadas or pasties) alligator bites, crawfish, and the pastries.

After moving into my housing site, I quickly learned that the people of Louisiana enjoy their porches (or gallery), as the breeze cools them in the heat of the summer. I found the different porch/gallery variations interesting and hope to continue learning about the architecture of this town.

Louisiana has a very unique history and rich culture. The intent of my blog is to share a bit of the history of CARI, the surrounding environment, culture, as well as some of my personal experiences in Louisiana. I look forward to sharing more.,than%20those%20who%20enslaved%20them.,NPS,%2C%20architecture%2C%20and%20food%20ways.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.