Long before there was “New Orleans,” there was Bulbvncha, a meeting place of many cultures and languages, a home to many people. That history and those people are still with us, although the growth of the European city of New Orleans has obscured traces of both. The majority of this ride travels along a traditional portage route near Lake Ponchartrain down towards to the French Quarter, retracing a thoroughfare that Indigenous people followed long before the arrival of European settlers, and remembers an important legacy and population that is not always recognized in talking about New Orleans’ unique culture and history.
Many thanks to Scierra LaGarde, a Bayou Lacombe Choctaw woman, for her insights, edits, and additions to this route, and for the final reflection offered for the last stop. Watch her video above to learn more!
A final note: this route contains no embedded images of people, and no historic photographs of Native people in New Orleans within the text itself (although there are photographs in many of the linked materials). That is a deliberate choice – as is the attempt to use older, precolonial place names – and is not meant to deny a rich visual history. There are several articles available concerning the coercive, non-consensual, commercializing use of photography against Native people that we encourage riders to explore, and also examinations of Indigenous artists whose in the past and the present engages in re-examing, pushing back against, and claiming the art form.
Turn by turn directions can be found here: https://goo.gl/maps/rv2NFC1bvf2qMoVg8
Stop A: Indigenous settlement (site of the “Old Spanish Fort”)
Stop B: Portage Route (Bayou Road)
Stop C: Indigenous market site (now Café du Monde)
Stop D: St. Antony’s Garden (behind St. Louis Cathedral)
Stop E: Backstreet Cultural Center
Stop F: Washington Square Park
While you are riding, bring masks and hand sanitizer, respect physical distancing, and make sure that you have an emergency contact who knows where you are and can pick you up if needed. We also have some more in-depth tips for safe biking in the pandemic, check them out! Please be aware that NOLA to Angola cannot provide logistical or emergency support to individual riders this year. Take care, and safe riding!