Students will be introduced to the contentious term “Creole.” The aim of the lesson is not to arrive at a stable definition of the word, but to gain an understanding of how a word like “creole,” or “white” or “American” can mean different things to different people. Students will examine their own racial, ethnic, and national identities with the goal of understanding how these identities have played constructive and destructive roles in history and in the world today. This lesson could either precede or follow the student’s introduction to the web exhibit. This lesson relies primarily on information from the first eight sections of the exhibit.

•Students will learn to use the Internet as a research tool by performing an Internet search.
•Students will discover the many ways that the word “creole” is used today. Through class discussion they will then discover the many varying ways that people identify themselves.
•A directed reading of three sections of the exhibition will lead students to understand how the word “creole” was used in different times by different people.
•Students will examine the many ways that they think about their own identity by creating identity cards.

Necessary Materials
Internet access (computer lab or computer projector) , basic art supplies (paper, scissors, markers, glue), or graphics software.

Teaching Procedure
Four activities integrate the web exhibit with a hands-on art project and discussions.

Activity 1: A “Creole” Brainstorm
Either on paper or using word processing software, have students create a dictionary entry for the word “Creole.” Briefly discuss some of the definitions that the students have created.

Activity 2: An Internet Search
Using Internet search engines, have students search for the term “creole” on the Internet (either individually in a computer lab or together as a class using a computer projector). Discuss the results of the search. What does the word “creole” mean in the different sites. What part of speech is the word “creole” in each example? (A brief grammar lesson--in French or English--about the difference between a noun and an adjective could follow from this point.) What is the difference between “creole” as a adjective and “creole” as a noun. What makes something “creole”? Where are “creole” things or people usually found? What is a “creole” language? Create a list with the students of the many ways that the word “creole” is used by people today.

Activity 3: Examining the Exhibition.
Using the text and images of Section 1 of Creole Echoes, The City of the Belle Creole,
(link), discuss how the term “creole” was also used to describe many different people and things in nineteenth-century New Orleans. Then contrast two other sections of the exhibit, The Free People of Color, (link) and “The Latin Race in Louisiana” (link). Both of these sections use terms (“free people of color” and “Latin”) that people once used to describe themselves but that are no longer used in the same way today. Why did people call themselves “Latin,” or “hommes de couleur libre” (free people of color)? Why would Charles Gayarré (link to image) claim that “the term Creole referred only to the pure white descendants of European settlers in Louisiana” ? How does Gayarré’s definition of the word “creole” differ from the way that the word is used in the “Slave Sale Notice” (link to image)? Why did the free people of color in Louisiana call themselves “creole”?

Activity 4. Creating a “real ID” card (as opposed to a “fake ID” card).
Have the students create an their own identity card. This activity could be done with computer graphics software or traditional art materials. Students draw or scan an image of themselves into the computer. They then create a card that reflects their own identities. A class discussion could produce a list of categories that might be used to create the identity card. Examples include: Where was the student born? What is his race? What is her ethnicity? Where does the student live? What is the student’s religious background? What language(s) does the student speak? Where are the student’s ancestor’s from? What is the student’s political affiliation? What is the student’s nationality? What is the student’s gender? What is the student’s favorite kind of music?
The goal of the exercise is to underscore both the importance and the instability of these categories of identity. A follow-up discussion could begin with the following questions: Which of the various identities that the student has put on his card is the most important to him? Which of her identities are not important? Can identities change? How can identities be helpful (for example, the civil rights movement)? How can they be dangerous (extreme nationalism, white supremacist movements, religious persecution)? Why did Charles Gayarré write The Creoles of History and the Creoles of Romance, (link to image) a speech claiming that all “creoles” are white? Why did Rodolphe Desdunes write Nos Hommes at Notre Histoire (Our People and Our History)(link to image), a book that highlights the achievements of Louisiana’s free people of color?

Gwendolin Midlo Hall, Africans in Colonial Louisiana. (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1992).
Creole New Orleans: Race and Americanization. Ed. Arnold Hirsch and Joseph Logsdon. (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1992).