Upper Louisiana, Cajun French, and Black Catholic culture in Louisiana

Fiddler Dennis Stroughmatt talks about French colonial heritage in the Midwest

This isn’t directly related to conjure or rootwork, but it might be of interest to some of y’all. It’s an interview with a fiddler and folklorist named Dennis Stroughmatt who talks about the music and culture of his region, and what Louisiana Creoles have in common with Quebecois and some folks in Missouri.  This right here is something of a summary of my father’s people and their culture, after they came to Louisiana from France (the line’s first “American forefather” was stationed at Ft. Kaskasia for awhile), and it gives you some insight into how some old Southern families are, incongruously it seems to some, quite Catholic for a long time (and thus how conjure and folk traditions that work a lot with saints will pop up in certain parts of the country that are otherwise widely Protestant, how nearly everybody with any link to any old, land-owning New Orleans families is distantly related to Marie Laveau (try looking under Lavaux in the records, for the links to the Duminy [from the Dumesnil and Dufouchard lines] and Glapion lines), and how St. Augustine’s Catholic church came to be when one state over, you can hardly find a single Catholic around at all, never mind one of African American descent). So this has a lot to do with the culture that Louisiana spiritual traditions are derived from, even if it’s talking more about fiddling than spiritual practices. Course, for some, the music is just as much a part of what really matters in life as the spiritual practices are, so these distinctions are a little artificial.

And of course I can’t say anything about Louisiana French culture without mentioning Mardi Gras Indians and second line cultures in New Orleans – this article on the Backstreet Cultural Museum is definitely worth a read.