is no individual person. She is simply a spirit of the Créole
Indians that inhabit the shores of Lake Pontchartrain area
north of New Orleans. In 1770 when the first French explored
this north shore area they discovered the native Choctaw Indians.
French families settled the area soon after. Later when French
were established, Negro families moved in the area and added
another ethnic spice to the community.
as 1600 BC the New Orleans north shore was populated by the
Choctaw nation. The names of area waterways, Bonfouca, Abita,
Bogue Falaya, and Tchefuncte are Choctaw expressions. The
Choctaw Indians introduced the early New Orleanians to gumbo
filé the powdered dried leaves of the sassafras tree.
Gumbo filé is an essential flavoring and thickening
ingredient of gumbo and other Créole dishes. It has
a flavor resembling that of root beer and is generally added
after cooking, when the food has been removed from the heat,
but still hot.
By 1748, the town of Lacombe had been established on Bayou
Lacombe. The bayou was and still is a poplar are for hunting,
fishing, and crabbing. Lacombe had the reputation as a refuge
for runaway slaves.
ago, this northern bank of Lake Pontchartrain was known as
the enchanted land. The landscape of this beautiful area includes
marshes, sandy beaches, clear spring fed creeks, tall pines,
and giant live oaks.
sold their handcrafted baskets and herbs at the French Market
in New Orleans. It was reported that the Indians came to the
market dressed partly in European garb, but also wearing silver,
beads, and bright colors. Creole families used Choctaw basketry
for clothes hampers and storage containers, in the kitchen
baskets held cutlery, fruit, and other everyday objects. Creoles
integrated with the Choctaw - sharing traditions, games and
folk lore. They hunted together, fished together, and played
Choctaw stickball. The Creoles enjoyed stickball, calling
it Raquette, the game became one of the more popular Louisiana
Choctaw influenced the New Orleans Creoles’ literature, poetry,
and paintings. While many of the Anglo Americans killed, abused,
and ridicule the Choctaws the Creole planters wisely advised
the Indians not to retaliate, for fear they would annihilate
the Choctaws completely. By the mid 1800s, many Choctaws lived
on Creole plantations for under the protection of the prosperous
spring the Choctaws from neighboring states would meet at
a night time ritual called the “corn feast.” During this meeting
included ritualized animal dances, sun worship, and "calling
early decades of the twentieth century only a handful of Choctaw
survived at Bayou Lacombe. They lived in poverty in raised
small shotgun houses. The Choctaw, like everyone else in the
area were abandoned by the sawmills after the piney woods
were clear cut. Their old skills, basketry, hide tanning,
beadwork, silversmithing, simple farming, and trapping or
hunting helped them survive. Their beautiful baskets were
made of cane and palmetto. Only six full-blooded Choctaws
were living in Bayou Lacombe in 1939 and some still spoke
There are many descendants of the Choctaws living in the New
Orleans north shore area and some traditional crafts and customs
are being perpetuated.
most unusual tradition is their observance of All Saints'
Day, honoring local gravesites by placing lighted candles
around each grave. At these ceremonies, local worshipers gather
to bestow reverence to their departed ancestors.
Paintings remind viewers of Gauguin’s work because Gauguin
is also known for his paintings of tropical people in tropical
settings. Instead of Tahiti, Preble has the tropics of Louisiana
for his back drops. In the deep Gulf South one finds Spanish
moss, slow moving bayous, steamy swamps, hazy marshes, Native
Americans, Creoles, and mystery. Preble admits his admiration
for Gauguin; he also appreciates the work of the Hudson River
artists, Herman Herzog, Thomas Moran, and M. J. Heade.
encourage an active relationship between subject and viewer
by establishing eye contact. Viewers quickly become intimate
with these paintings.
from the Camille series are in numerous collections and have
been exhibited at various galleries and museums including
the New Orleans Museum of Art.