Gentilly Girl- a part of the 99%

June 25, 2006

Definition of the Isle d’Orleans

Filed under: Civic Blogging,New Orleans — Tags: , — Morwen Madrigal @ 4:28 pm

Someone asked me what I mean by using the term “Isle d’Orleans” in some of my posts. It’s something I learned during my childhood here along the Coast.
My mother used to tell me about the history of the Gulf Coast, and why we are different from the rest of the country. Ashley Morris sums it up quite well;

“I’ve always said that from about Panama City to Lafayette, and about 50 miles inland (not including Tallahassee or Baton Rouge) should be one state. I mean, do the people of New Orleans have diddley in common with the people of Bossier City? Do the people of Mobile have anything in common with the people of Montgomery? Do the people of Port St. Joe have anything in common with the snobs of Boca Raton? Hell no. But the coast, the coast has always been special. We all pretty much get it, although now Pensacola is more a military retiree home, and they’re trying to impose their Ohio values on people that just want to drink beer and fish.”

We are living in what was French-held territory. We were bought or ceded to the U.S. We are an “occupied” nation. Our world was subjected by the acts of Powers that did not consider the inhabitants. The treatment we have received by the U.S. over the years reflects these facts. We have more than enough reasons to stand alone.
We ARE the true melting pot of this country. In most of the Nation, communities are segregated. Here in the Isle d’Orleans, we freakin’ MELD. We become yet another ingrediant in that strange gumbo that makes up our people down here. Why do you think Mid-America likes to visit here?

Our culture is different, and it calls to the Inner Self that screams for the different, the communal, the REAL. That sums us up: the Real. (No wonder we aren’t accepted in the general culture.)

More to come babes…

Sinn Fein


  1. Ashley as usual gets it right, except that the land from the Florida Parishes west was always Spanish, but then so is most of the French Quarter. My own take on the Isle of Orleans from a ways back:

    Comment by Mark Folse — June 25, 2006 @ 8:53 pm

  2. You are very right Mark. Bienville founded Mobile, and he and his brother moved West. I also believe, (and it is a belief), that the two had influence to the East along the Coast.

    I’ve never read Paul Theroux’s Mosquito Coast, but I’ve sold hundreds of copies of it. I will get a copy and learn something new.

    Right now I’m operating from family legends… their beliefs. I’m the last of their line. I cannot remember all that I was taught.

    It may be that the Isle d’Orleans was a Spanish concept refering to the Coast. I do not know… it was just what I was taught as a child. (My family is filled with legends and tales I cannot verify: i.e., My line has LaFitte as an ancestor, and Madame Leveau is one of us…)

    There were things that was told, and some I have refuted. I DO accept the concept of the Isle d’Orleans. If you can correct me, I’ll be the first to say thank you.

    As an oral, and literate, historian, I must work from my sources. If you have something I have missed, please inform me.
    It’s all family legend, I cannot verify this stuff. My seniors died long ago.

    But, the Isle d’Orleans is a valid concept. We have always been different from the rest of the country. Maybe it’s from the influence of the Langeudoc or whatever. We are different.

    Maybe this is like Avalon, a belief. Who freakin’ knows. I only know that’s there’s a difference from the Coasties from those 25 miles inland. We ‘see’ things differently.

    Personally, I’ll take the legends.

    Comment by Morwen Madrigal — June 26, 2006 @ 4:20 am

  3. I like to think of it in more in geo-cultural terms, which leads me to define the Isle d’Orleans as just the city itself, which is (for the most part) surrounded by water (if you count the canals at the parish line.) I exclude the suburbs because of the fear and disdain (white flight) so many suburbanites have of the city, and because the culture is concentrated here. No place else looks, sounds or feels like this place. NO place.

    Comment by Lisa — June 26, 2006 @ 11:27 am

  4. Lisa,

    I agree with you on many points. My differences come in that I lived in Biloxi and Mobile long ago. Travelled up and down the Coast over thirty years ago… the area I’m describing was very much like N.O. back then.

    The Mississippi Coast was filled with clubs and music. They saw themselves as an extension of New Orleans. After Camille hit, that started to change.

    I also have another reason for including the entire area I described… I’m all for seccession for the Coast. We have been abused for far to long. We have the ports and the oil. Our fisheries are fantastic. But where is the return?

    The folks along the Coast worked hard to provide for the Nation. (You haven’t lived until you have to pull in a shrimp net when the winch breaks… I have.) My belief is that all of us have gotten screwed.

    It was all so different back then. I wish it could be like that again.

    Comment by Morwen Madrigal — June 26, 2006 @ 2:12 pm

  5. I wish I could claim Lafitte or Laveau, but I was pleased to learn from my sister (converted to Mormonism and as a result the family geneologists so all those poor dead Folse women can be properly married off and admitted to the temple…) that the two pictures of ancestors I have hanging in my house, whom my children refer to as Lewis & Clarke, were in fact regufees from the Saint Domingue slave uprisings. Another interseting tie to early NOLA history.

    I wanted to use a well estalished family legend in my January TP piece, but was vetoed by my mother who thought it unseemly.

    Comment by Mark Folse — June 26, 2006 @ 3:47 pm

  6. Mark,

    We MUST tell our stories!

    I take pride in my family history, and I will not take crap for what my genealogy is. I’m proud to be who and what I am. That’s all one can do.

    My family would have probably vetoed my attempts at telling history, but they are all dead. I get to decide what is seemly now.

    We are Palots from St. Bernard and Orleans Parishes. We started as shrimpers and became builders. My family has been here from the beginning. (With an infusing of the Islanos.)

    Never ever deny your reality. It is your history.


    Comment by Morwen Madrigal — June 26, 2006 @ 5:30 pm

  7. I live in Fort Walton Beach, FL and I’ll gladly become part of a state that includes New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast. New Orleans is my happy place. I visit as often as I can and hope to live there one day.

    I agree that people north of us don’t understand the Gulf Coast culture. It’s just a slower, more relaxed pace of life. I don’t want to hurry, and I don’t like anyone trying to make me. New Orleans is the epitome of this (except for driving). The music, the people, the color, the flavor—if someone doesn’t get it, it’s impossible to make them understand.

    Comment by Breny — July 1, 2006 @ 6:36 pm

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