December 7, 2008 7:12 PM Subscribe
The Isleños are said to be a dying traditional American subculture. Descendants of Canary Island immigrants of Louisiana, the name Isleños was given to them to distinguish them from Spanish mainlanders, known as "peninsulares." But in Louisiana, the name evolved from a category to an identity. For a long time they were one of those rare subcultures that found a way to maintain a living tradition as the world around them modernised by carving out a livelihood as crabbers and 'shrimpers'. Then Katrina hit and the wetlands, which were central to the Isleños identity, essentially dissapeared. Despite the blow to their economy, they still have their songs and annual fiestas, evidence of a strong culture which binds their community together, and their rebuilding following Katrina demonstrated how strong that sense of identity and culture can be. So perhaps the Isleños shouldn't be written off just yet, then. After all, as Isleño Irvan Perez says, "This is home. Where else would we go?"
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