Heart of Louisiana: Creole Heritage Folklife Center
OPELOUSAS, La. (WAFB) - People hear a lot about Creole food, music, and culture in Louisiana but a small museum in the city of Opelousas lets visitors step inside an old Creole family home.
Rebecca Henry has been sharing her personal stories in an old Victorian house in Opelousas for the past 30 years. It’s called the Creole Heritage Folklife Center. Through the old furnishings, the hand tools, photographs, and art, Henry hopes to help visitors reconnect with their ancestors.
“To find out, ‘Oh, my mother didn’t tell me that, I didn’t know that, oh, we had a bed like that,’” said Henry. “So, I get just that feeling of people that’s appreciating their culture now when they come here.”
The furnishings are from the early 20th century when an ice box kept food cold without electricity and the stove didn’t use natural gas. Indoor plumbing was crude and not much better than the outdoor facility. This museum is all about the Creole culture and heritage. If I ask 10 people, what is creole? I’ll get 10 different answers.
“Creole is family, and it embodies everything that is cultural. It’s not meant to be a thing that is confusing. Who gave us that name? Who say that we were Creole, surely not the Creole,” explained Henry.
She displays some of her own original paintings and quilts. All of those pieces tell a story.
“I draw back on my upbringing and what I can remember the visual and what I think about it, the joyous days of when I was growing up,” she added.
The Creole Heritage Center is located in downtown Opelousas, an area where Creoles were historically farmers and spoke a unique language.
“They would call it broken language. Je m’appelle Rebecca. That’s Parisian French. Mo no se Rebecca. That’s Creole,” she said.
Henry provides an intense two-week summer program for area children. They are introduced to the lifestyles of their ancestors, the music, and so much more. If there’s one thing that they take away from, from being here and learning about the music, the culture, the lifestyle, what would you want that to be.
“Pride, self love, and spread it out to others, just to be a genuine human being,” noted Henry.
And she hopes to accomplish that by sharing her own personal stories of the hardships, the hard work, the successes, and the joys of being a Creole family.
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