Welcome to the Center for Bayou Studies

What is Bayou Studies?

The Center studies the environment and culture of the Louisiana river basin referred to as the “Bayou Region”. The Bayou Region encompasses the parishes touched by Mississippi River tributaries and the South Louisiana marshland.

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Presentation offered to the Preserve Louisiana Program

Nicholls Biology, State Agencies Receive $400,000 for Mississippi River Conservation Project

Nicholls State University will lead the observation and conservation of alligator gar and other Louisiana fish species for a $400,000 project that aims to improve connections between the Mississippi River and a north Louisiana floodplain. READ THE PRESS RELEASE HERE.

Environment

CBYUS focuses on a region that is at risk of cultural extirpation due to land subsidence, coastal erosion, sea level rise, and hurricane impacts that have led to insurmountable economic burdens causing the dispersal of extended families and communities. Over the last fifty years, this region has lost an average of one acre every 30 minutes.

The Bayou Region offers boundless opportunities for ecological research because of its diversity of life on land, in the wetlands, and within the waterways. Topographically it presents profound challenges for both wildlife and human settlement due to the fragile nature of its delta foundations and the persistent threat of land loss.

Culture

“The land and the people are one.”

The Bayou Region is home to a number of divergent American cultures, such as the Cajuns, Creoles, and Houmas.

Although there are many shared characteristics of the Bayou Region, there are also very specific differences among each of the bayous. Erudite linguistic studies have shown that even villages along the same bayou utilize different words and pronunciations for similar objects or activities. Historically, the sub-cultures of each bayou have avoided mixing with other bayou sub-cultures, leading to a richness of diversity in accents, tribal lore, music styles, culinary practices, boat design, and subsistence methods. The Center for Bayou Studies aims to preserve these distinct cultures for the reference of future generations.

Mission

Preserving Bayou Culture, Serving the Community, and Supporting Nicholls

From its position in the bayou country of south central Louisiana, the Center for Bayou Studies will be the eminent center for cultural and scientific study of Louisiana bayous and bayoulands.

It will be an interdisciplinary and inter-collegiate center of collaborative intellectual expertise interested in fostering new scholarship on, and new sponsorship of, projects aligned with its mission.

The Center will:

  • Provide leadership on public presentations of global bayou and bayouland issues.
  • Collect and preserve cultural material for scholarly research and for posterity.
  • Facilitate collection and preservation efforts of regional historical and genealogical societies and collaborate on scholarly interpretation.
  • Exhibit artifacts and ideas that inform, inspire, and challenge common understanding of bayou peoples, bayou environments, and bayou culture.
  • Create public programming serving Nicholls and its communities.
  • Develop and support the cultural economy of the bayou region.
  • Advance the educational mission of Nicholls by providing opportunities for academic collaboration as well as workforce development for students, the general public, and regional stakeholders.

Bayou Studies Resource Center

The Bayou Studies Resource Center on the first floor of Ellender Memorial Library houses a collection of cultural material that can be accessed with permission from the library circulation desk.

In the Resource Center, you can find:

  • Films by local filmmakers
  • Regional literature
  • Instruments to scan archival material
  • Instruments to conduct interviews
  • Architecture models, Native American basketry, and other artifacts

The films and literature stored in the Resource Center are included in the main library database search. Ellender Library has also compiled a list of useful websites on this page.