People and Resources Within the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary

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by Donald W. Davis, Louisiana State Univ, Baton Rouge, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '93

Abstract: South Louisiana's geographic complex is a product of two discrete ingredients: one natural and the other cultural, or human. Relief, soils, landforms, rocks, vegetation, climate, and other natural qualities and agencies are traditionally well studied and self-evident. Cultural elements-demography, ethnicity, economy, learned skills, acculturation and assimilation, cultural adaptation and heritage, and historical and evolutionary change-are not observed easily. Even so, they are often the foundation for the coastal zone's importance as a productive environment because exploitation patterns cannot be explained by land characteristics alone. Many factors complicate the interpretation of land use, including people's tastes, desires, and traditions. Because they are vague, less fixed, intangible, and difficult to study, cultural phenomena are often disregarded. There were definite cultural practices and customs that helped to formulate the Barataria-Terrebonne region's land-use ethics and patterns of economic and resource development. The cultural diversity displayed within the basin spawned cultural concepts that are rooted in each group's settlement philosophy and were incorporated into their land-use ethic. Distinct attitudes toward the regional resource base evolved with time, along with material elements that assisted the population to harmonize with their environment. The relationship between culture elements evolved into a distinct human imprint on the land and are now a part of the area's cultural ecology and ethno-history. These issues are discussed in this paper.

Subject Headings: Estuaries | Land use | Ethics | Cultural diversity | Coastal environment | Vegetation | Human factors | Ecosystems | Rocks | North America | Louisiana | United States

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