The Delta in American Life and Culture

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The Mississippi River Delta is one of the world’s most unique places. Not only is it home to three million acres of wetlands, vital wildlife habitat and abundant hunting and fishing grounds, it is also the birthplace of jazz, gumbo and Mardi Gras. Such natural and cultural diversity makes Coastal Louisiana a truly iconic American place.

What makes coastal Louisiana unique are the people who live there, people whose lives are intricately tied to the delta. They are descendants of Native Americans, Acadians (Cajuns), Canary Islanders (Islenos), Europeans, Africans and others who settled in the delta and along Louisiana's coast. These were people drawn to the area because the Mississippi River was—and still is—the gateway to North America. Converging upon the delta, these people brought with them the distinctive foods, languages, traditions and festivals that have made the Mississippi River Delta the unique place it is today.

Almost half the current population of Louisiana—nearly 2 million people—lives near the coast. They rely on the coast to sustain their livelihoods and ways of life just as their ancestors did. No place else are culture, traditions and environment more intricately connected than in the Mississippi River Delta, but today's ecological collapse threatens all of this. To ensure that future generations have access to these cultures and traditions, America needs a restored and healthy delta.

Read more about the importance of the delta to its communities.