Louisianans who are interested in keeping Louisiana French alive will meet Saturday in Derry, La., for what’s called the Natchitoches French Table. Dustin Fuqua, cultural resource specialist for the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, launched the Natchitoches French Table in January.
Last year, he landed a coveted National Park Service professional development grant that enabled him to attend French Tables throughout southwest Louisiana to improve his retention and use of Louisiana French, a group of French dialects.
“I’m from Avoyelles Parish in Cenla. It’s actually the tip of the Golden Triangle as they call it of Acadiana. I’ve noticed the Louisiana French language decline over the years, even since my childhood seeing folks from my grandparents generation – their first language was actually French," Fuqua said. "They only learned English when they attended elementary school.”
Fuqua cites statistics from the Northwestern State University Creole Heritage Center that finds there are only five native Louisiana French speakers left in Natchitoches Parish, and they’re up in age. Fuqua said two of them attend the Natchitoches French Table meetings where attendees practice the language and learn from each other. Today, Fuqua is mostly fluent and he credits his involvement with French Tables.
“It really helped me a lot in my retention and advancement of the use of the language. So I thought, wow, what a great way to learn, share, and promote the language. What better way but to establish a French Table here in Natchitoches," Fuqua said.
The monthly Natchitoches French Table gets under way on Saturday, May 18, at 10 a.m. at the Magnolia Plantation in Derry, La. There will be a screening of the Tulane University documentary “Everybody Was French Here.” Fuqua said there are 25 active French tables statewide.
Pour plus d'informations, contactez Dustin_Fuqua@nps.gov ou 318-527-9148.