Hurricane Katrina, Los Isleños and Me

In my spare time I have been working to fix all the problems in New Orleans and surrounding areas, which were caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Of course, I have help. Yesterday I cooked my brains digging on two 50 x 50 centimeter test squares and watching a Bobcat dig a building footing at L0s Isleños, Louisiana.  This modest dig is the first exploration of the early settlement of L0s Islenos, which began after 1780. It was one of several settlements in Spanish Louisiana populated by former residents of the Canary Islands. The area selected for the settlement was known as Terre aux Boeuf. The area today is in Saint Bernard, Saint Bernard Parish, Louisiana.

Historical Marker

Historical Marker

The place where our crew was working yesterday is at the Los Isleños cultural center, which was hard hit by the storm and flooded with more than 4 feet of floodwaters.  A large live oak tree toppled and crushed the museum building, which was later demolished (that demolition took place before I got there). now a new building is being constructed on the same building footprint.  At another area of the property a large “food court” is being built, which promises to be the mother of all concession stands. The architects seem intent to insure that this food court is able to withstand a Category 6 Hurricane and floodwaters of Noah-esque proportions.  It is being built on top of a previously unknown building that appears to date to the 1830s-1860s (my rough estimate). We are still researching to determine who lived there. It may be the home of a Canary Island descendant, or possible one of a few enslaved people who served that family.

This a dynamic, unfolding story and if I tell too much more, my boss may beat me on the head. Photos and updates to follow some day.

Prior to last month, I knew very little about the Canary Islanders in Spanish colonial Louisiana, and I still am a newbie on the subject. Here is a link to the cultural center’s webpage:  http://www.losislenos.org/

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